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Just the facts: clarifying our content

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From The Rapidian staff

Each week, a Rapidian staffer will publish a piece related to goings-on at The Rapidian, developments in the world of citizen journalism and tips for making the most of the site. Click here for past editorials.

One benefit of online journalism is the option to comment and add to the conversation.

One benefit of online journalism is the option to comment and add to the conversation. /therapidian

It’s the aim of The Rapidian, as seen in the Statement of Values, to encourage and stand by ethical reporting. Reporters are charged with seeking truth, being honest and fair, minimizing harm, avoiding misrepresentation, seeking alternate sources and refusing offers of quid pro quo. With a writing and editing staff composed of volunteers, though, it’s possible that some incorrect information could slip through the cracks and find its way into a published story.
If we are made aware of this, action is taken immediately. The story is taken off the site to be evaluated while the writer is contacted. If it’s possible that the mistake can be corrected, the change will be made, the story will be republished and an update will be noted on the page. We are also working on a contingency plan to inform readers if a story has factual errors that affect its entire relevancy and needs to be taken down completely. As a reader, what type of clarification do you think is necessary in this case? Would a dedicated errata section on the front page be useful to you? Or would something more subtle be appropriate?
Those who register to be citizen reporters on The Rapidian are matched up with a trusted editorial mentor, whose responsibility it is to guide new contributors through our editorial process. For a new reporter's first three stories (and sometimes more) his or her editorial mentor helps with copy editing and advice. All Rapidian reporters are encouraged to include multiple sources and fact check a piece before submitting it. Sources can include people directly affected by an issue, observers,cited research, official reports, photos, videos and sound clips. The more a story can be substantiated with sources and auxiliary information, the more informative and engaging it is to the reader.
Rapidian reporters are legally responsible for their own content but The Rapidian is the platform on which these articles are presented and bears the obligation of credibility. As such, it’s asked that readers and other reporters add information via commenting on published pieces where they see fit. On the front page you can always see the three stories that elicit the most comments and the most up votes. Where the conversation on these pieces is being driven is up to readers, so make use of this interactivity often. It’s also helpful to contact editors or Content Facilitator Matthew Russell by e-mail at [email protected] and let them know your concerns.
Over a year into the game now, The Rapidian has been turning heads in the world of digital media. Stories have been shared, links have been tweeted, e-mail digests have been sent and results have been polled. There is no room for misleading information when stories are being thrust into the public eye. It's our passion and aim to highlight hyperlocal news throughout Grand Rapids. As well it's our duty to make sure this news is undiluted and factual.

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

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If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

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Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.