Tuesday, December 13, 2005

"We Regret the Error"

I’m usually apathetic about end-of-year lists. Who cares who the sexiest man alive is, the most stolen car or most popular breed of ferret. But one list that I always look forward to is the best (or worst, depending upon your perspective) news media corrections of the year.

I have a personal interest in all of this. When I first came into the newspaper business in the late 1960s, errors were routinely covered up and seldom publicly acknowledged, although the threat of a lawsuit usually would soften up even the toughest editor or publisher. Today, errors are usually publicly acknowledged and some newspapers even have ombudsmen (ombudspeople?) to investigate readers’ complaints and concerns.

Anyhow, a blog called Regret the Error: Mistakes Happen has cobbled together 2005’s most outrageous corrections: http://www.regrettheerror.com/2005/12/crunks_05_the_y.html, but we'll stick to the highlights here.

It’s intro:

Let’s just say it: This was a very bad year. That's the inevitable conclusion after just a few minutes spent reviewing this year’s long list of errors, corrections and plagiarists. But it’s about more than just quantity. What jumps out is that this was a year during which we witnessed the astounding consequences of media errors.
It was the year that Newsweek’s Koran error played a role in deadly riots, the year a Fox News commentator’s error caused a family to be terrorized by its neighbors, the year the Chicago Tribune was sued for $1 million for mistakenly labeling a man a mobster (it did the same to another man the same week but he declined to sue). The year the New York Times' reputation took a beating over its failure to accurately report on WMDs in Iraq. And let’s not forget the furor over a “nudge” that never was.

And now on to the winners:

Correction of the Year:

The Denver Daily News would like to offer a sincere apology for a typo in Wednesday's Town Talk regarding New Jersey's proposal to ban smoking in automobiles. It was not the author's intention to call New Jersey “Jew Jersey.”
Typo of the Year:
A Reuters report about the recall of "beef panties" by a meat processor.

Runner-up Typo of the Year (Dallas Morning News):

Norma Adams-Wade's June 15 column incorrectly called Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk a socialist. She is a socialite.
Numerical Error of the Year (Reuters):

Please read in paragraph nine: “about 27 million Soviet citizens died” . . . instead of . . . “more than 27 Soviet citizens died.”

Best Delayed Correction (The New York Times):

An obituary on Jan. 6, 1993, about William G. McLoughlin, an emeritus professor of history and religion at Brown University, misstated the date and cause of his death. Professor McLoughlin died on Dec. 28, 1992, not on Jan. 4, 1993; the cause was colon cancer, not liver cancer. The article also misstated the location of his World War II military service. It was at Fort Sill, Okla., not in Europe. The Times learned of the errors through a recent e-mail message from a family member.

1 comment:

Cody Dillon said...

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