Slate Sics Automatic Change Monitor on Politico

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After Politico removed a couple of lines from its original post about l'affaire du McChrystal, coding-savvy Slate reporter, Jeremy Singer-Vine, built a digital watchdog that kept tabs on how often the site changes its posts without telling its readers. I wonder how long before this kind of transparency becomes commonplace. Will media sites, in an effort to build and maintain trust, start providing this data to readers themselves?

How often does Politico, in the din of the news cycle, make significant changes to its copy after publishing it--without telling readers?

Part of the answer, of course, depends on your definition of the word "significant." But part of it is simply math. To get the raw numbers, I wrote a series of fairly simple computer programs to monitor changes to all major Politico articles at regular intervals. (Here is more detail than you probably care to know about the programs.) After three weeks and nearly 400 articles, I have my answer: about 3 percent of the time.

Read the full story at Slate.

Update: Make sure to check out the corrections appended to the story; they appear to take some heat off Slate's fastball.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer calls Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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