If your entire business is built around writing, your reputation is built on the supposed quality of that writing and reporting that it was based on, wouldn’t you think that you’d take great pains to ensure the public face of that writing and reporting was perfect? Apparently not at CNN. The typo on the right was the lead story, right smack on the home page. Noontime on Sunday.
Yes, I guess you could say it was a "disasater." Ok, it was a Sunday and perhaps the staff was limited, or the proofreader was out for a mocha machiado, but this simply should not happen.
And if it does happen, it should not remain that way for over an hour. When I noticed the "updated 13 minutes ago" I was stunned, and decided to keep an eye on the story. It took an hour before the typo was corrected.
A website like CNN probably gets hundreds of thousands of visits per hour. What happened to CNN’s reputation during that time?
The key, and the lesson for all of us, is that critical systems need to be poka yoked… mistake-proofed. Some method or device needs to be in place to prevent an error from happening in the first place. Oftentimes those devices are incredibly simple and inexpensive, and are created after analyzing the root cause of problems and the process that created them. Can you say "spell check?" Of course CNN probably uses customized software… and regular readers know what our opinion is of software!
If, for whatever reason, a poka yoke cannot be used, critical systems need a way for problems to be identified very, very quickly. Is CNN.com the home page for the thousands of CNN employees? Do they know who to contact if a problem is discovered? How about the general public?
And once a problem is identified, there needs to be a method to quickly contain and then correct the problem. Make another story the lead until the typo is corrected. But don’t let it damage your reputation for over an hour.
That’s a disaster.