Every day, the editorial staff at the UK wonders: What are we writing about, why are we writing about it, and how are we writing about it? A weekly look behind the scenes.
Last Thursday, the UK reported that the RUG had spent a total of 700,000 euros on the preparations for the much debated branch campus in Yantai, China. This article had to be updated only a few hours later or, rather, substantially corrected.
Upon closer inspection, the 700,000 euros turned out to only have been for this year, and not for 2015 (when the plans for Yantai were launched), 2016, and 2017 combined. Altogether, the preparation costs come to more than two million euros, more than twice the amount the university had estimated and announced earlier.
So how did this somewhat messy piece of reporting come about? It started with a rather unclear message from the Board of Directors at a University Council meeting, in response to a question about how much the RUG had spent on the preparations for Yantai.
While many (ourselves including) understood the stated figure to be the total amount, it was only later clarified that it only pertained to this year. And so the original article had to be overhauled.
It’s one of the advantages of online journalism. When the UK was still a printed newspaper – how long ago it seems – readers had to wait a week for updates, clarifications and/or corrections (no one is infallible, neither us nor our sources). But now we can implement changes with a snap of our fingers.
But we feel it’s important to be clear about it when we make these changes. So when it happens, and hopefully it won’t happen often, we indicate that in our articles with [UPDATE]. We don’t do that with any odd spelling mistake or a badly written sentence, but only when a substantial change has been made.
Speaking of Yantai: the UK is joining a large RUG delegation on a visit to China. Depending on the time available (which might be difficult due to the full schedule), I will be reporting from Yantai, or at least immediately after my return. Preferably without an [UPDATE].
Rob Siebelink, editor-in-chief