Gelf Magazine - Looking over the overlooked

Oops

July 14, 2005

Blind Justice

Volatile guilt, a reporter with a flair for fiction, taking it easy on priddy oggies, and other enlightening and entertaining media corrections.

Carl Bialik

Oops
Paul Antonson
Every week, Gelf combs through media corrections for the funniest and most enlightening. Sometimes journalism reveals more in its mishaps than in its success. Gelf makes mistakes, too, and when we do, we'll disclose them here.

The text in italics is Gelf's; everything else is a direct quote from the publication.

Our Fast-Moving Justice System

Washington Post, July 9: The Crime & Justice column in the July 8 Metro section included an outdated item about Louay Habbal, a Vienna man accused of running an unlicensed money-service business. The correct item is in today's Crime & Justice column on Page B2.
In the first go-around on a Friday, the Post reported, "A Northern Virginia man pleaded not guilty yesterday to running an unlicensed financial business that federal officials alleged had transferred more than $23 million abroad in recent years, much of it to Syria." By the next day, the story was just the opposite: "A Vienna man pleaded guilty Thursday to running an unlicensed money-service business that sent millions of dollars to Syria and other countries." Calling the first column outdated clouds just how wrong it was.

Feuer's Memory Checks Out

New York Times, July 7: An article on April 14, 2003, about the opulent homes of Sadeh Street in Baghdad, where several of Saddam Hussein's aides and relatives had lived before the American-led invasion, misspelled the surname of Mr. Hussein's private secretary, who owned a three-story hacienda on the street. He is Abid Hamid Hamoud, not Abid Hamid Mahmoud. The Times recently asked its Baghdad bureau staff to recheck the article after the writer, Alan Feuer, published a book, "Over There: From the Bronx to Baghdad, Two Months in the Life of a Reluctant Reporter," based on his experience covering Iraq. In one passage, Mr. Feuer recalled that "it was impossible to tell" what he had written in his notebook concerning some specifics in the Sadeh Street article. But the recent check confirmed an age and another name spelling cast into doubt by the book.
The New York Observer's Tom Scocca summed up the correction thusly: "Reporter Alan Feuer can be trusted; it's the memoirist Alan Feuer (or his alter ego, "T.R."), who embellishes stuff." meanwhile, New York Daily News reporter Lloyd Grove, citing an anonymous source, says that the Times brass was miffed that Feuer wrote he'd made stuff up: "I'm told that not only was Feuer forbidden from promoting his book on the Fox News Channel, Times executive editor Bill Keller summoned him to his office to take the hapless author to the woodshed."

Correction Extras

•Last week Oops linked to a 577-word correction in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and also to a blog posting claiming that the correction was an overwrought, underdeserved apology to the subject of the original article, Joyce Meyer Ministries. It turns out there's a lot more to the story. The reporter's lawyer told Editor & Publisher that she had been suspended for five days because of the need for a correction. The St. Louis Journalism Review reported rumors circulating in the Post-Dispatch newsroom that the correction and suspension resulted from personal conflict between the reporter and the paper's editor, Ellen Soeteber. The Journalism Review's Ed Bishop says he doesn't buy that theory, but, "On the other hand, to not believe the theory leaves you with only one conclusion: Soeteber couldn't stand the heat and caved to an outfit that takes in millions of dollars every year by telling folks that God will reward them if they will only give money to Joyce Meyer."

•A St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter David Hanners writes on Romenesko of a frustrating experience with the reader rep for the rival Minneapolis Star Tribune—Hanners flagged several errors but the paper would only correct one of them. "I'm not just being pedantic here," Hanners writes. "Journalists often come under fire from those in the scientific and technical communities for screwing up details big and small. As a result, we lose credibility with people in those fields and, eventually, readers in general."

•A reporter writes two stories that are technically correct but unclear on one point. Then he writes a clarification, but goes on assignment. An editor inadvertently botches the clarification, creating more errors. The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer's story of error is so tangled that the paper ran an article about it last month.

•Gelflog wrote Monday about the media's strange preoccupation with comparing a baby panda to a stick of butter. As a commenter pointed out, though, we goofed on one thing: "the cub was actually conceived by artificial insemination (also known as the turkey baster method). The actual fertilization took place 'in panda' rather than 'in vitro.' " We've fixed the post.

•The Guardian is selling a compilation of its most memorable corrections, including, "In 'The Perils of Loyalty', we referred to 'the moral satin of Clinton's career'. That should have read 'the moral stain'."

Admire Us. We Fix Stuff.

In compiling each week's column, Oops has noticed that some papers embellish their corrections with additional language. Some simply express regret; others invite readers to report errors they spot; others, worst of all, use the opportunity to trumpet their journalistic integrity, as if a willingness to correct the record is a sign of great character. Below we list a selection of these embellishments, listed roughly in order from least to most highfalutin. One caveat: These all come from the papers' online corrections, and some might run different wording in print.

Expression of Regret

Chicago Tribune: The Tribune regrets the errors.

The Tennessean: The Tennessean regrets the error.

Toronto Star: The Star regrets the error.

Baltimore Sun: The Sun regrets the errors.

National Post: The Post regrets the error.

This Is What We Do

Wired News: When mistakes are made, we make corrections.

Detroit Free Press: The Free Press corrects all errors of fact.

Please Contact Us

Dallas Morning News: The Dallas Morning News welcomes your comments about published information that may require correction or clarification. We will pursue your concern to determine whether a correction or clarification needs to be published. We also will let you know how the matter was resolved.
A promise to notify readers of how their concern is resolved is an admirable and unusual position to take.

Boston Globe: The Globe welcomes information about errors that call for corrections.

New York Times: The Times welcomes comments and suggestions, or complaints about errors that warrant correction.

San Antonio Express-News: MySanAntonio.com welcomes comments on published information that needs to be corrected or clarified.

We Rock

NPR: NPR corrects significant errors in broadcast and online reports.
Insignificant errors, they skip?

Christian Science Monitor: The Monitor promptly corrects factual errors and welcomes comments and information that may call for correction.

Philaldelphia Inquirer: The Inquirer wants its news report to be fair and correct in every respect and regrets when it is not.

Fresno Bee, Sacramento Bee: It is The Bee's policy to acknowledge errors promptly.

Austin American-Statesman: The Austin American-Statesman takes complaints about accuracy seriously and we will publish a correction or clarification whenever it is established that we have made an error or published misleading information.

Orange County Register: It is The Orange County Register's policy to correct promptly all errors of substance.

Seattle Times: The Seattle Times and seattletimes.com strive to make news reports fair and accurate.
What's the deal with specifying news reports? Is that to exclude editorials, or ads? Either way, it's a strange qualifier.

Arizona Daily Star: The Star does its best to identify and correct all errors.

Guardian: It is the policy of the Guardian to correct significant errors as soon as possible.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel: The Sun-Sentinel takes complaints about accuracy seriously and will publish a correction or clarification whenever it is established that we have made an error or published misleading information. Corrections and clarifications will appear below, with some limited exceptions.
"Limited exceptions?" What's that about?

Idaho State Journal: The Idaho State Journal strives for accuracy. We invite readers to notify us, when they see errors, so that corrections and clarifications can be printed as soon as possible to set the record straight.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is committed to publishing news and information accurately. Whenever the P-I fails to meet this standard, our policy is to set the record straight promptly. In print, corrections and clarifications appear on Page A2 of the newspaper. Online, seattlepi.com corrects the article and includes a note in it stating that a correction has been made. P-I editors welcome contacts from readers who believe a correction or clarification is warranted.

Akron Beacon Journal: The Akron Beacon Journal is committed to fairness, accuracy and objectivity. We recognize that errors occur and are eager to make corrections quickly and candidly.

Orlando Sentinel: The Orlando Sentinel strives to publish accurate information as clearly as possible. When it publishes information that is either inaccurate or misleading, the Sentinel will make every effort to publish the correct information as quickly as that information can be determined and to take appropriate measures to prevent the publication of similarly inaccurate or misleading information in the future.

News.com: CNET News.com strives to meet the highest editorial standards for accuracy and completeness in its reporting. It is our policy to correct errors when they occur.

San Francisco Chronicle: It is the policy of The Chronicle to promptly correct errors of fact and to promptly clarify potentially confusing statements. The policy applies to all newsroom employees. Errors, whether brought to our attention by readers or staff members, will be corrected quickly and in a straightforward manner. It will be considered unprofessional conduct and a breach of duty if employees are notified of possible errors but fail to respond. Correcting errors and clarifying ambiguous information is a virtue and an admirable practice. Significant corrections are noted on the corrections page for seven days and the archived copy of the article will be annotated.


Shock and Flaw

New York Times, July 7: The Op-Ed page in some copies yesterday carried an incorrect version of an article about military recruitment. The writer, an Army reserve officer, did not say, "Imagine my surprise the other day when I received orders to report to Fort Campbell, Ky., next Sunday," nor did he characterize his recent call-up to active duty as the precursor to a "surprise tour of Iraq." That language was added by an editor and was to have been removed before the article was published. Because of a production error, it was not. The Times regrets the error.
Times editorial-page editor Gail Collins explained to the New York Observer, through a spokesperson, what went wrong: "When we edit op ed pieces, we often ask writers to add additional information, and sometimes suggest possible language. In this instance, the author had gone on active duty after the piece was submitted and he was working with an editor on a way to make that clear. When the editor suggested the sentences in question, the author rejected the wording and offered a proposal of his own which everyone agreed worked well. Unfortunately, the right version of the story was sent to the kill file while the earlier, rejected version wound up in the paper. We're still trying to figure out how that happened, so we can take steps to make absolutely sure it doesn't occur again. One of the roles of the op ed editors is to help the authors make their pieces as lively and compelling as possible. But in the end, the pieces are the work of the writers, who must approve each and every change in their copy. The fact that this didn't happen in the case of the Carter piece was so unusual, and so regrettable, that we ran the extensive editor's note you saw on Thursday."

Insult to Injury

Chicago Tribune, July 8: Note to readers: Friday's preprinted Tempo section includes a story on the French president's criticism of British cuisine. The story was written and printed before Thursday's London bombings.
Presumably if editors had been able to, they would have held the article, reasoning that sensitive readers would have objected to lines like, "front-runner Paris was nosed out by London, giving sports fans the world over seven years to prepare for such tasty British treats as 'parson's nose' and 'priddy oggies' (the tail of a dressed fowl and a boiled pork in pastry)."

Supreme Errors

Arizona Daily Star, July 6: References to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's class standing as a Stanford Law School graduate in 1952 were incorrect in recent editions of the Star and other publications. Stanford didn't rank its graduates at the time.
Why the rare, seemignly defensive note that "other publications" messed this up? Debbie Kornmiller, the Daily Star's reader advocate, wrote an entire column about the correction, explaining that the error has kicked around for 24 years even after Stanford corrected it for the first time. O'Connor's brother, Tucsonan Alan Day, told Kornmiller he's always heard "third in her class" and that "Sandra had never disagreed with it."

Los Angeles Times, July 9: An article in Thursday's Section A about the debate over potential Supreme Court candidates said the Judicial Confirmation Network was one of the conservative groups opposed to Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales' possible nomination. The organization has not taken a position on Gonzales as a possible successor to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Chicago Tribune, July 8: A Page 1 article on Tuesday incorrectly characterized a group involved in the developing contest over the next Supreme Court nominee. According to a representative of the group, Progress for America has not expressed a position on abortion or any other particular issue; rather, it seeks to defend whomever President Bush nominates from "dishonest attacks and partisan smears by liberal special interest groups."

New York Times, July 7: An article on Saturday about a number of past hints that Justice Sandra Day O'Connor might resign from the Supreme Court misstated the number of e-mail messages sent by People for the American Way, a main liberal group working on judicial issues, saying that the vacancy created a "critical moment for the Constitution." It was 400,000, not 4,000.

New York Times, July 6: A front-page article on June 27 about conservatives who cite Justice Anthony M. Kennedy as the type of justice they do not want appointed to the Supreme Court referred incorrectly to the creation of the Judicial Confirmation Network, a conservative advocacy group. While its founders included some leaders of the Federalist Society, it was not created solely by them; it was founded by Gary Marx, now its executive director, with the encouragement of other conservatives.

San Francisco Chronicle, July 3: In Saturday's news section, a caption under Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's photo incorrectly stated the party in power in the Senate during her confirmation. The Democrats controlled the Senate in 1993.

New York Times, July 7: Because of an editing error, an Op-Ed article yesterday about activist justices on the Supreme Court misstated the date the court started. Its first official business began in 1790, not 1791.

New York Times, July 7: A front-page headline yesterday about efforts by Republican leaders to persuade their conservative allies to stop attacking the attorney general as a potential choice for the Supreme Court misspelled his surname in some copies. He is Alberto R. Gonzales, not Gonzalez.

Wall Street Journal, July 6: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas received 52 affirmative votes and 48 negative votes when the Senate confirmed his nomination in 1991. A bar chart that accompanied an article yesterday on the high court incorrectly displayed the results. In addition, Justice Anthony Kennedy received 97 affirmative votes and no negative votes, while Justice David Souter received 90 affirmative votes and nine negative votes at their Senate confirmation hearings. The bar charts in some editions failed to quantify those affirmative votes.

Washington Post, July 8: A July 2 Style article about media reports on Sandra Day O'Connor's resignation from the Supreme Court incorrectly identified a spokesman for Fox News. He is Paul Schur, not Peter Schur.

Millions and Billions of Goofs

Los Angeles Times, July 6: An article in Tuesday's Section A about NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft said the solar system was created 4.6 million years ago. It should have said 4.6 billion years ago.

Wall Street Journal, July 8: K.B. Home agreed to pay $3.2 million to settle federal allegations that its mortgage unit engaged in poor lending practices. A Market Movers column on July 8 incorrectly reported the figure as 3.2 billion.

Guardian, July 1: A graphic on greenhouse gases contained an incorrectly converted figure for the annual production by humans of carbon dioxide: 8bn tonnes became 8,000,000,000kg, missing out a crucial extra three noughts. More simply, it is 8,000bn kg

Globe and Mail, July 7: The estimated cost of cybercrime in 2004 was $400-billion. Incorrect information was published in a graphic yesterday.
Without access to the original article, Gelf isn't sure what the error is, but it's more likely that $400 million was printed than $400 trillion.

But We'd Still Like to Know How You Might Do It

Guardian, July 5: A front-page blurb for our report of the Nasa comet probe, page 7, July 2, said: "How do you shoot an object that is 83m miles away and moving at 23,000mph? That is what will happen when Nasa seeks to destroy a comet." Nasa was seeking to do no such thing, and the story on page 7 did not say that it was.

History Lessons

Los Angeles Times, July 9: An article in the July 1 Sports section about the flying of Confederate flags at NASCAR races said, "The Stars and Bars of the Confederacy were part and parcel of the sport's foundation." In fact, the flag that is the subject of debate at NASCAR events, and is most commonly associated with the Confederacy, is the Confederate battle flag. The Stars and Bars, modeled on the U.S. flag, was the first national flag of the Confederacy.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 9: Editing errors in Amy White's July 7 column ("From bench to throne") incorrectly attributed statements concerning the creation of the judiciary system.
"The people will think we are leaning close to monarchy" was correctly attributed to John Rutledge, South Carolina delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, but should have been in quotation marks. "With this power, the judiciary could become more powerful than the expressed will of the people," was written by White, not Alexander Hamilton, and should not have been in quotation marks.

Geography Lessons

Wall Street Journal, July 5: In a map that accompanied a page-one article June 16 about fears of nuclear-weapon proliferation in Asia, the South Korean island of Ulleung was shaded incorrectly so as to suggest it is part of Japan. In addition, the map rendered the size of Ulleung incorrectly. See the corrected map below.

Language Lessons

Guardian, July 9: Field Marshal Rommel was not Monty's nemesis in north Africa during the second world war (The Guide, page 54, June 25). Nemesis, as well as being the Greek goddess of retribution, is a source of harm or ruin, or an opponent that cannot be beaten or overcome.

Guardian, July 7: In a leader, Preparing for the worst, page 23, July 5, we described water as a "scarce resort". We should have said resource (one that we should not resort to unnecessarily in times of shortage).

Fishy Lesson

Sacramento Bee, July 6: On Page A3 Sunday, a graphic showing California's official state items included an incorrect photograph. The photo labeled as a California golden trout was instead a rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), according to Walter J. Beer of the state Department of Fish and Game. "This is an example of a specially bred color mutation sometimes marketed by the aquaculture industry as 'Golden Rainbow' trout."

Mind Reader

Newsday, July 9: Because of an editing error, a story in Friday's Business & Technology section mischaracterized comments by Manhattan attorney Mark Winston. Winston said New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer might be thinking he can win a second trial of former broker Ted Sihpol by streamlining the state's case or presenting it differently, but Winston didn't say he had any direct knowledge of Spitzer's reasoning.
The article stated, "Mark Winston, a former federal prosecutor, now a defense attorney with Baker & McKenzie in Manhattan, said Spitzer thinks he may win by 'streamlining' the case or presenting it differently."

Only the Safety System's Safety Was Compromised

Washington Post, July 8: A July 4 article about computer simulations of terrorist attacks incorrectly said that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported in 2003 that a computer worm penetrated the control systems of a nuclear power plant, disabling its safety mechanisms for about five hours. The worm disabled a safety-monitoring system, but it did not affect the rest of the systems safeguarding the plant.

Let's Just Call It 'Four'

Slate, July 8: In a July 5 "Mixing Desk," Martin Edlund originally and incorrectly referred to an Apple Quadra machine as an Apple Quattro. Subsequently, it was mistakenly labeled in this "Corrections" column as Apple Quadro, due to an editing mistake.

Not So Buried Lead

Slate, July 8: In the July 6 "Today's Papers," Eric Umansky incorrectly stated that a New York Times story about a Persian-American filmmaker detained in Iraq did not mention suspected bomb parts he was found with until the 11th paragraph. The Times made reference to the alleged bomb parts in the second paragraph.

Gender Identity

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 7: A story in Wednesday's Gwinnett News section about the Teen Machine at Gwinnett Place mall gave the incorrect gender for Shina Lawal. He is male.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 10: An article in Saturday's Metro section about a court hearing on laptops for the Cobb County school system misstated Superior Court Judge S. Lark Ingram's gender. Ingram is a woman.
The AJC's computer virus of the week makes it switch genders; last weeks Oops noted a different AJC bug that cut off final sentences from articles about Hawks draft pick Marvin Williams. That virus apparently has spread to different AJC stories:

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 7: The last two lines of a story in Wednesday's Atlanta and the World section about the 48th Brigade Combat Team were inadvertently cut off. The last paragraph, about a 42-inch plasma TV at an austere base, should have read: "No way," said 1st Lt. Leo Deason, 39, a firefighter from Trussville, Ala. "Whoever shows enough initiative to get up out of their chair and put a DVD in can watch whatever they want."
The original version of the article apparently ended mysteriously: "But they have a seemingly inexhaustible supply of DVDs—and the best TV in the region. Do they ever argue about what to watch?"

Raison D'Etre

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 7: An ingredient was omitted from the Whole Foods Market Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe in today's Food & Drink section, which was printed in advance. The recipe calls for 16 ounces semisweet chocolate chips.

Fair Response

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 7: Due to a production error, comments by Anheuser-Busch Cos. were omitted in a Wednesday Business story. The story was about a federal appeals court decision requiring the National Labor Relations Board to review disciplinary action taken against a group of workers found in violation of A-B's work rules. The omitted paragraph reads: In a statement, Anheuser-Busch said: "The court affirmed the NLRB's authority to determine what is an appropriate remedy in this case. With that authority, the NLRB will revisit the disciplinary decisions. We trust that the NLRB will again uphold the company's decisions on review."

New York Times, July 6: Because of an editing error, the Joseph Nocera column on Saturday, about the career of the lawyer William S. Lerach, who has made a living suing companies on behalf of shareholders, omitted a phrase. It said that Mr. Lerach declined to comment on a Justice Department investigation into his dealings with some former clients. In addition, the column should have noted that Mr. Lerach and his former firm, Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman, through separate representatives, denied wrongdoing.

A Useless Correction

Orlando Sentinel, July 7: A review on Page F9 of the June 19 Life & Times section of the book When Blanche Met Brando: The Scandalous Story of 'A Streetcar Named Desire' characterized incorrectly author Sam Staggs' support for allegations of sexual byplay among the production's cast. The end notes, not the text, buttressed those allegations. Also the review described incorrectly Staggs' attitude toward Lyle Leverich, prior biographer of Streetcar playwright Tennessee Williams.
This correction hardly rights matters. You'd have to dig up the original review to know that it stated, "Staggs covers the play's creation, but needlessly and wrongheadedly mocks the scholarship of Lyle Leverich, author of the definitive Tennessee Williams biography." And even once you did that, you still wouldn't know what would have been a correct characterization.

Reports of Her Death Were Greatly Exaggerated

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 8: A Metro Digest item that appeared in some editions Thursday incorrectly stated that the driver in a one-car accident in Washington County had died. The driver, Jennifer Schmitt of Bourbon, Mo., is alive and received only minor injuries in the accident.

Read Your Own Damn Newspaper

Dallas Morning News, July 9: In a July 2 "Hits and Misses" entry, we improperly characterized comments by state Sen. Royce West and Dallas City Council member James Fantroy as indicating a belief that the FBI's investigation at City Hall "might be a racist plot to smite black political power." Their statements in a June 28 Metro column, on which we based our editorial comment, indicate they suspect the investigation might be politically motivated, but neither was quoted as specifying race as a factor.

Righting Fighting Words

Slate, July 8; In the July 7 "Fighting Words" column, Christopher Hitchens originally and incorrectly claimed that Prime Minister Tony Blair had promised legislation that would outlaw speech that could be construed as offensive to Islam and that this represented an extension of Britain's blasphemy law. The government has introduced a bill that would criminalize incitement to hatred on the grounds of religion; this is an extension of a law that prohibits incitement to hatred on racial grounds and is unrelated to Britain's blasphemy law.

We Don't Know Any Leader Like That

Christian Science Monitor, July 7: The original version could have been read to refer to the leaders instead of the people. Also, the original version failed to mention the interview took place prior to the election.
The fixed article reads as follows; you can imagine which readers might have been implied by the original wording; "Certain factions within Iran and the US have a 'common mind-set,' says Javad Vaeidi, editor of the conservative Diplomatic Hamshahri newspaper. 'They look at the world in black and white; they think they have a duty from God and are on a mission ... and both people [Iranians and Americans] think they are emperor of the world.' "

So Who Was Providing Security That Day? Anyone? Bueller?

Washington Post, July 8: A photograph accompanying a June 25 Sports article about Washington Nationals players' cars being broken into at RFK Stadium during a 10-day road trip showed two unidentified security employees of Contemporary Services Co. working at the stadium. The California-based company provides security services at the stadium on game days but was not providing security during the road trip when the break-ins occurred.

Who Came First?

Washington Post, July 7: In a July 3 Style article about the late R&B singer Luther Vandross, an extraneous word changed the meaning of a sentence. The sentence should have read: Yet as tempting as it is to listen to Vandross's lush, soulful tenor and place him in a pantheon of classic soul men that stretches back to Ray Charles, his richest, most lasting influences were women, particularly the great old-school divas such as Dionne Warwick, Cissy Houston and Aretha Franklin.
The original version said that Vandross's "richest, most lasting influences were on women."

You Apply for That Permit at the DMV

Washington Post, July 7: A June 5 article examining area regulations on home funerals contained a spelling error in the Virginia section that changed the meaning. It should have said, "The medical examiner provides a permit for cremation," not "creation."

Less Interesting Than We Thought

Wall Street Journal, July 6: Chevron Corp. routinely releases interim reports to the financial community about its oil and gas production in advance of the company's quarterly earnings. An article Thursday on Chevron's efforts to derail a competing bid for Unocal Corp. from Cnooc Ltd. erroneously implied that Chevron attempted to boost its stock price by issuing a second-quarter update on production.
The article stated, "In an apparent attempt to boost its stock price -- and increase the value of its bid -- Chevron yesterday issued an interim update on its second-quarter production. The restart of a Gulf of Mexico platform that was badly damaged by Hurricane Ivan last year is helping boost oil production, it said. Margins at its refineries, particularly on the West Coast, were also strong."

Mo' Problems

Los Angeles Times, July 9: A June 26 Los Angeles Times Magazine article about the increasing number of elderly prisoners in California said the state's three-strikes law mandates life sentences without parole for certain repeat felons. In fact, on a third-strike felony sentence of at least 25 years to life, the offender is eligible for parole after serving at least 80% of the sentence. Also, the article gave the wrong first name for a prisoner at the California Medical Facility. He is Clyde Hoffman, not Claude.
Oops last week noted several major corrections to the same article.

The Press's Nuance Gap

New York Times, July 5: An article on June 10 about criticism of Howard Dean, the Democratic Party chairman, over several derogatory remarks he made about Republicans paraphrased incorrectly from his comment during an appearance in San Francisco. He said that the Republican Party was "pretty much a white, Christian party"—not that it was made up "only" of white Christian conservatives.

An Orwellian Name

New York Times, July 6: An article on Sunday about an increase in the number of documents that have been classified by the government since 2001 gave an incorrect name in some copies for the panel that is being formed to guard against excessive secrecy. It is the Public Interest Declassification Board—not Classification.

But We Tried to Fix It. Boy, Did We Try!

US Weekly, July 6: In some early editions of the July 18 issue, Us Weekly inaccurately reported that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were adopting a baby boy together. Her new daughter is, in fact, a girl, and while Pitt was present when Jolie signed the adoption papers, he himself was not a party to the adoption. As the magazine went to press on the night of July 4th our reporters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia were continuing to report out the story. By the following morning we learned that we had made these errors and stopped the print run in order to correct the story. However not all issues were corrected in time.
Gawker headlined its post about this correction, "Celebrity Reporting: Continuing to Be Harder Than You'd Think."

Some Consultant

Chicago Tribune, July 8: A headline, a graphic and a photo caption in Thursday's Metro section incorrectly stated that the EPA cited H. Kramer and Co. for lead emissions. In fact, it was cited for minor violations of the Clean Air Act. Also, the graphic that accompanied the story incorrectly stated that J.C. Schultz Enterprises Inc. of St. Charles released 1,509 pounds of lead into the air during 2003. That information came from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to the company, a consultant had reported an incorrect amount to the EPA and the actual amount was zero.

Guardian, July 9: In an article titled Who pays Africa's bribes? published by GuardianUnlimited on July 5, UK companies were considered to be the eighth biggest payers of bribes in the world last year. This is untrue. The mistake arose from a misreading of data from a report by Transparency International and the article has now been amended.
Probably the Guardian was going off this 2002 report, which, based on a survey, found that the U.K. ranked eighth among 21 countries.

Correcting the Correction

Salon.com, July 1: After publication of the June 16 story "Deadly Immunity," Salon and Rolling Stone corrected an error that misstated the level of ethylmercury received by infants injected with all their shots by the age of six months. It was 187 micrograms—an amount forty percent, not 187 times, greater than the EPA's limit for daily exposure to methylmercury. At the time of the correction, we were aware that the comparison itself was flawed, but as journalists we considered it more appropriate to state the correct figure rather than replace it with another number entirely. Since that earlier correction, however, it has become clear from responses to the article that the forty-percent number, while accurate, is misleading. It measures the total mercury load an infant received from vaccines during the first six months, calculates the daily average received based on average body weight, and then compares that number to the EPA daily limit. But infants did not receive the vaccines as a "daily average"—they received massive doses on a single day, through multiple shots. As the story states, these single-day doses exceeded the EPA limit by as much as 99 times. Based on the misunderstanding, and to avoid further confusion, we have amended the story to eliminate the forty-percent figure.
This is an unusually comprehensive and honest accounting of a correction, and the thinking behind it, but the resolution—to simply remove the number—doesn't seem satisfactory. Oops earlier noted other major corrections to this story.

Correcting the Correction, as Per the Gentleman's Request

Guardian, July 5: The BBC World Service has asked us to point out that the correction to the dates for Guy Barker's World of Music applies only to listeners outside Europe. For those within Europe the days given in the original Friday Review article are correct. The correction was made at the request of the programme's production company, which had not consulted the BBC. In the same correction we also incorrectly named him as Gary.

We Got Lots of Mail About This Error, Some of It on Sunday

Guardian, July 7: In our Diary, page 22, July 5, we wrote about "the Daily Mail's attempts to present itself as the house journal of the protest community" by sponsoring placards for Make Poverty History marchers in Edinburgh. In fact the placards had nothing whatsoever to do with the Daily Mail. The newspaper which issued the placards was the Sunday Mail, the Scottish sister of the Daily Record and unconnected with the Daily Mail or indeed the Mail on Sunday. Apologies.

Definitely Snarky

St. Petersburg Times, July 7: Our Stamps column on Tuesday said Snow White had 12 dwarfs. You're thinking, "Which ones did I miss? Blitzen? Snarky? Piffle?" The correct number, of course, is seven. We feel Dopey.

I Wish

Oregonian, July 6: Dontrelle Willis plays for the Florida Marlins. A headline in Monday's Sports section mistakenly implied he plays for the New York Mets.

Spot an interesting correction on television, in a magazine or newspaper, or on a web news site or blog? Or see something that should have been corrected but wasn't? E-mail Gelf with your find.

Carl Bialik

Carl Bialik, a co-founder of Gelf, is a writer for FiveThirtyEight.







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Article by Carl Bialik

Carl Bialik, a co-founder of Gelf, is a writer for FiveThirtyEight.

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