Mistakes Update: Names Remain Our Bane

Mistakes involving names of people, places and things continue to make up the largest share of the corrections we post.

In October, 48 of the 92 corrections involved names that were wrong (for example, a Mike who is actually named Mark) or were misspelled.

So far in November, 14 of the 48 posted corrections have been about names. That’s a lower ratio than in October, but it is still the top category among the mistakes we make.

As we’ve said before, if we could just cut down on name-related mistakes, we would make significant progress on the overall problem.

Obviously, we still have to double-check numbers, dates, historical facts and other things. Refer to the accuracy checklist for tips.

But, please, get names correct from the start. Name mistakes in scripts are showing up in Web stories. Name mistakes in drafts of Web stories are making it on to NPR.org. Name mistakes in reportables could end up in a Newscast. Each person in the chain — reporter, editor, producer, etc. — should double-check. Don’t think someone else is going to do it.

Some best practices:

- Get the people you meet to spell their names on tape or in your notes.

- Get contact information from them so that we can verify if necessary (and find them if we have other questions).

- Check names against official bios.

- Ask the RAD team for help if you’re having trouble nailing down a name.

Perhaps most importantly, do not assume anything or trust your memory. The name we misspell most often is almost surely that of one of the richest and most-often quoted men in the world. Do you know for sure which of these is correct?

- Warren Buffet (which shows up 109 times in a search of NPR.org).

- Warren Buffett (which shows up 524 times).

 (“Memmos;” Nov. 16, 2018)

November 16, 2018

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