Editing, fact-checking and correcting errors

The biggest part of the Heights Observer's mission is to enable discussion of important community topics. Who decides what's important? You do, by choosing to contribute.

There are some boundaries. Topics must be relevant specifically in Cleveland Heights and/or University Heights. So you can discuss the merits of city council candidates, but we don’t make room for opinions on would-be presidents or governors. There are plenty of other outlets for those conversations.

There’s more than one way to contribute too, and this sometimes causes confusion. If you have something to say, here are your options:

  • Write an article. This is fact-based reportage—who, what, when, where and why—citing information from people other than the author. An article about a local issue may outline the pros and cons of the possible outcomes, but it won’t seek to persuade readers which side to take.
  • Write an opinion piece for the Heights Observer. This needs to be factual too; you can’t assert something that’s untrue. But if you hope to persuade others to take a particular position, this is the place to try.
  • Write a letter to the editor. Most people exercise this option when they want to respond directly to something else they’ve read in the paper. But it’s open to any local topic, and is shorter and less formal than an opinion piece.
  • Write a blog post. We have a separate blog site (blogs.heightsobserver.org) where you can post your thoughts in a more free-form style—though we still enforce our standard for highly local content. Posts from the blog site are sometimes excerpted in the printed Observer. Anybody can comment on any blog post at this site, but bloggers need to be given a higher level of access in order to publish. If you’re interested, contact me.

Space in the printed Heights Observer is limited. Items that don’t fit into the printed edition will still be published on our website at www.heightsobserver.org. The website and blog site have prominent links so you can easily find one from the other.

Periodically, the factuality of something we publish gets questioned. People sometimes ask, “Don’t you check the facts before you publish something?”

Typically, yes. Our standards are at least as high as the Plain Dealer and certainly higher than Cleveland.com, where reporters routinely publish stories that an editor hasn't reviewed.

We’re pretty good at catching big errors, but we aren’t perfect; keep in mind that our editors, as well as our writers, are volunteers. If you find a substantive error, let us know; we’ll look into it and take appropriate action.

The blog site is different: Items there are not reviewed in advance. If you see something that’s incorrect there, the best action is to set the record straight by writing your own comment at the end of the blog post.

If you believe an error was an intentional attempt to mislead, please let us know. We’ll look into it and take action as needed.

More details about how information gets posted and reviewed is available online. Visit www.heightsobserver.org and click on the “Policies” link on the left-hand menu.  On the blog site, visit blogs.heightsobserver.org and click the Rules/FAQ link on the main menu.

Bob Rosenbaum

Cleveland Heights resident Bob Rosenbaum is co-chairman of the Heights Observer, and is responsible for its advertising sales and market development. Reach him at brosenbaum@heightsobserver.org.

Read More on Opening the Observer
Volume 7, Issue 10, Posted 3:17 PM, 09.29.2014