Media | Oops

March 28, 2005

Corrections 3/21-3/27

Math and irony, dissed divas, marijuana record holders, and other enlightening and entertaining media corrections.

David Goldenberg

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.

Like Rain on Your Wedding Day

New York Times, March 26: The On Education column on Wednesday about academic progress by students at Public School 105 in Far Rockaway, Queens, referred imprecisely to an increase in the number who met math proficiency standards in 2003, compared with 1999. Five times as many met the standards, an increase that was fourfold, not fivefold.

Kids: Just Say Not No

Arizona Daily Star, March 23: An editorial Monday on B4 concerning steroid use should have stated: "The public, especially kids, needs to understand that the dangers of these drugs outweigh the benefits."

The original article's unconventional message: "The public, especially kids, needs to understand that the dangers of these drugs do not outweigh the benefits."

The Former Record-Holder Called This One In

Arizona Daily Star, March 25: A story Wednesday on A1 incorrectly reported that the 13,500 pounds of marijuana seized from a Foothills home was the most ever to be seized from a single residence in Pima County. A seizure in March 1984 yielded 32,000 pounds of marijuana from one house in Pima County.

The original article noted: "In 2004, 46 stash houses in the Tucson area were seized by authorities, 14 of which had 1,000 pounds or more of narcotics."

Dissed Divas

Washington Post, March 21: The March 18 Names & Faces column included a quote that was attributed to Britney Spears via Allure magazine. The quote was actually a spoof, written by a Philadelphia Daily News reporter, of an Allure interview with Spears. The spoof was then picked up as an actual quote by

The spoofed quote: "It's this reality. Like omigod, I have to tell the maid to buy diapers and get the pool boy to walk the dog? Can't I just make out with Kevin all the time? Being married sucks." The Philadelphia Daily News spoof was admittedly unclear, but it was sad to see this quote get unquestioningly picked up so widely, including in US Weekly, as Gawker notes., the source of much of the error propagation, apparently removed the spoofed quote from its article without acknowledging the error, but the original quote is reproduced at Daily Kos. Don't they, and we, have anything better to do?

Boston Herald, March 22: Readers of some editions of the Boston Sunday Herald may have been surprised by the byline on a review of Friday night's Ashlee Simpson concert. The starlet did not review her own show. That was an editing mistake. The review was by Sarah Rodman. (We're blaming our band for the error.)

A sense of humor never hurts. The Herald entitled its correction: "Review was not lip-synced."


Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 24: In a March 13 story about the responses of metro police departments to the AJC's open-records request for crime data, the Duluth Police Department was listed as having failed to respond. The department responded to the request on the day it was received, but the information was returned to the agency as "undeliverable as addressed" despite having the correct address.

The original article has now been corrected twice. Gelf wrote about the first correction in last week's Oops column.

A Gothic Mystery

Minneapolis Star Tribune, March 26: A story on Page A19 Thursday quotes Ryan (Frost) Simula commenting on Goth culture. Simula says that while he is an observer of Goth culture, he has never been part of it.

In the original article, the author describes Simula as "very much part of the Goth scene." Perhaps the confusion came from Web surfing, which finds that Simula apparently filmed and edited this music video (warning: some nudity) for the local band All Flesh.

Like There Aren't Enough Substantiated Complaints to Make About John Bolton?

San Francisco Chronicle, March 20: In last Sunday's Insight section, a story ("Bush's nominee for U. N. envoy has already irritated the world") asserted that an analysis developed by the World Health Organization showed SARS to be an artificial creation that might have escaped from a Chinese military lab. There is no documented evidence to back up that statement. It was based on conversations with people familiar with WHO's work on the virus.

The corrected opinion column also stated, "many are quietly asking what the real origin of the bird flu might be."

I Lick Rusty

Los Angeles Times, March 26: An article in Tuesday's Outdoors section about tuna fishing referred to an angler as Rusty Johnson. His name is Frosty Johnson. The article also said Jack Nilsen caught a 248-pound fish using a tuna-catching device called a kite; Nilsen did not catch the fish using a kite. In addition, Gayle Johnson was quoted as saying, "Fish hard, lick the bait, and don't think you know more than the crew." In fact, she said, "Fish hard, pick the bait, and don't think you know more than the crew."

Have a 'Good Time'?

The Economist, March 23: In our story about Bernie Ebbers on March 19th, we said that most experts expect Mr Ebbers "to receive a 20-to-25-year sentence. With time off for good behaviour, he might serve half that." In fact, parole for good behaviour is no longer available for convicts serving federal sentences, though time spent in jail may be cut by up to 15% under a "good time" provision. Mr Ebbers will be sentenced on June 13th.

Not So Minor Details

Lake Houston Sentinel, March 24: In the March 3, 2005 edition of the Sentinel, the names in the story "Rio Villa man arrested for aggravated assault" were erroneously and inadvertently reversed. The reporter was confused with the facts as they were told to him in person by Carl Seaton of Rio Villa. Seaton claims that Danny Lee Palermo fired shots at him. According to the Sheriff's Office, there were three rounds fired at Seaton, but Seaton wasn't injured or hit by any bullets. The Sentinel regrets the error and any confusion it might have caused.

The original article begins: "Harris County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested Carl Seaton, age 47, and charged him with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon."

I've Seen This Anecdote Somewhere Before

New York Times, March 21: An anecdote on Monday in the Metropolitan Diary column misstated the origin of a humorous story about a Russian-born Jewish mother who said after seeing "Fiddler on the Roof" that it brought back memories, "only I don't remember so much singing." The comedian Alan King told the story about his own mother in his 1996 autobiography. The reader who submitted it as a story related by a friend was not aware of its origin.

The Times relayed that same anecdote—with the correct source—less than a year ago in an obituary after King's death last May: "Both his parents were Russian immigrants, and as he recalled in his autobiography, 'Name-Dropping: The Life and Lies of Alan King'' (Scribner, 1996), when he took his mother, Minnie, to see 'Fiddler on the Roof,' he thought the fictional village of Anatevka might bring back memories of her own childhood village. 'And when the show was over and we were back on the street,' Mr. King wrote, 'I said, "Ma, how did you enjoy it? Did it bring back memories?" "It was wonderful," she said. "Only I don't remember so much singing." ' "

This Policy Stuff Is Complicated

Los Angeles Times, March 24: An article in Saturday's Section A about a request that the Labor Department investigate an AFL-CIO campaign against President Bush's Social Security proposal said union leaders had threatened investment firms that they would withdraw pension money if those firms backed Bush's proposal. Such threats have been alleged by Republicans on Capitol Hill. AFL-CIO officials said they had asked money managers to stop supporting the president's proposal because they believe it is not in the interests of investors. However, they say the AFL-CIO does not govern pension programs and has not threatened to withdraw any funds.

It's troubling that the paper swallowed Congressional spin, though the paper did talk to the AFL-CIO and printed only this response from the union: "An AFL-CIO official said the lawmakers' comments were an attempt to enlist the government to 'punish workers and their unions for exercising their 1st Amendment rights.' "

New York Times, March 27: The Economic View column last Sunday, about the effect of fluctuating incomes on the Social Security debate, misstated the given name of the Krieger-Eisenhower professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University, who is an expert on income volatility. He is Robert A. Moffitt, not Bruce.

The latest weekly roundup of ubiquitous Social Security gaffes. While there were a few, they were outnumbered by corrections for the new hottest story last week:

The Truth About Terri

Slate, March 25: In a March 22 "Today's Blogs," David Wallace-Wells described the condition of Terri Schiavo as "comatose." Though not all neurological experts agree about Schiavo's brain function, her condition is most commonly referred to as a "persistent vegetative state," a comalike condition in which the patient is still capable of some limited movement.

David Goldenberg

Post a comment

Comment Rules

The following HTML is allowed in comments:
Bold: <b>Text</b>
Italic: <i>Text</i>
<a href="URL">Text</a>


Article by David Goldenberg

Contact this author