Gelf Magazine - Looking over the overlooked

Media | Oops

April 25, 2005

Corrections 4/19-4/25

Michelle Delio, a Dingus, eBay intrigue, 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.

Digging Deeper

Wired News, April 20: This story has been modified to remove quotes attributed to the Rev. Michael Amesse, who says he did not talk to the reporter.

The reporter is Michelle Delio, whom Gelf first wrote about when two of her articles were removed from the Technology Review website last month after the magazine found it couldn't verify one of her sources. During a review of some of Delio's Wired News articles, Gelf talked with Amesse, who rejected the quotes attributed to him. "I never said that," he said, adding, "I didn't know that then and I don't know it now." (Delio's original piece had Amesse stating: "People who are computer experts or who work with computers do say Expedite is their patron saint," and "I don't know why they say Expedite is the computer saint. St. Isidore is the saint of technology and the internet. Yet these people insist on praying to Expedite. Like all things that concern this saint, it is a mystery.")

Last week, the Technology Review published the results of its own investigation, finding only three of the 10 pieces Delio wrote for the site could be completely verified. Two contained sources (like Amesse) who claimed they never spoke to Delio about the subject matter they were quoted on, if they were contacted at all. More troubling? Six of the seven articles contained sources who were unlocatable.

Earlier this month, InfoWorld removed statements from seven unverifiable sources in four different articles written by Delio.

Wired News is conducting its own investigation into Delio, who wrote over 700 articles for the publication. Delio has not been published by Wired News since March 24, around when Gelf first started investigating her stories.

Like Rain on Your Wedding Day

Sports Illustrated, April 25: In last week's issue an item about Detroit Free Press reporter Mitch Albom's fabricating a scene in his column on Michigan State's Final Four game said that Albom "wasn't even in St. Louis. "Albom—who concedes that the scene was fabricated—was in fact at the game in St. Louis. We regret the error.

Los Angeles Times, April 23: An article in Friday's Calendar section about Detroit Free Press writer Mitch Albom identified NBA players Mateen Cleaves and Jason Richardson as graduates of Michigan State University. They attended the university, but did not graduate.

Los Angeles Times, April 25: An article in Sunday's Section A said author and sports columnist Mitch Albom had been placed on an unpaid leave of absence by the Detroit Free Press after writing a column in which he said two former Michigan State basketball players had attended a game they didn't attend. In fact, Albom was placed on a paid leave of absence.

Gelf wrote about the Albom case in an earlier Oops column. The Free Press said Saturday it had disciplined Albom and four other unnamed staffers for the fabrication. Editor & Publisher noted the secrecy around the Free Press's response.

School-Bus Armageddon

Washington Post, April 20: A graphic with an April 19 Metro article incorrectly reported the number of passenger miles traveled by U.S. school buses. The correct figure is 4.3 billion miles each year, not each day.

A graphic with an April 19 article incorrectly reported that the number of school bus fatalities per passenger miles was 0.01. The correct figure is 0.01 school bus fatalities per 100,000 passenger miles.

Extrapolating from the graphic, over 15 billion passengers die in school buses each year.

He Got By With a Little Help

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 23: Two articles carrying the byline of an Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer included passages that were copied without attribution from other newspapers; the passages were represented as the result of our staff writer's work, but they were not. The passages, one in 2005 and one in 2004, quote Daytona Beach, Fla., area residents and race fans before and during the Daytona 500 race. The staff writer, Al Levine, did not talk to those people. The information in this year's story was taken from the Daytona Beach News-Journal. The information from the 2004 story was taken from the Orlando Sentinel. These are clear violations of the paper's journalistic standards. We apologize to our readers. The reporter regrets his actions, apologizes and has resigned.

Sexual Identity

Gelf Magazine, April 23: Naresh Newar is a man. An earlier version of this article referred to Newar, of the Nepali Times, as a woman.

D'oh.

Skipping a Beat

Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 20: A story on Page A1 on April 8, "EBay shocker: Case of stolen pacemaker," incorrectly said records showed that Greg Etts, a purchasing manager for Advanced Cardiac Specialists, knew that two pacemakers he had purchased on eBay had been stolen. In fact, the public records from the Arizona Medical Board, which were ambiguous, state that Etts knew that the pacemakers were stolen at the time he was interviewed by the board. The records do not state that he knew the pacemakers were stolen at the time he acquired them. Etts has denied that he knew the pacemakers were stolen at the time he acquired them, and we are aware of no evidence to the contrary. We apologize for this error. Also, we wish to make clear that the Arizona Medical Board has not taken any action against the physician who implanted a stolen pacemaker. At its initial meeting on this case, the board concluded unanimously that evidence available to the board at that time did not warrant disciplinary action against the physician.

Gelf couldn't find the original article on the Star-Tribune website, but here are the relevant bits, via Nexis: "The buyer was Greg Etts, a purchasing manager for a large cardiac practice based in the Phoenix area called Advanced Cardiac Specialists, according to a report issued by the Arizona Medical Board. Etts later admitted to board officials that he knew the pacemakers were stolen when he bought them and that he often purchased devices on eBay."

"Dr. Ashok Garg, a physician with Advanced Cardiac Specialists, implanted the stolen pacemaker in the patient and then paged a Medtronic sales representative, according to the medical board. The board is investigating Garg's role in the matter and could revoke his license as a result."

Lucky It Wasn't Chris Tucker

New York Times, April 25: A picture caption yesterday with an article about the Big Dig construction project in Boston misspelled the name of a spectator at a Congressional hearing on the project. He was Chris Tingus, not Dingus.

Answers.com defines "Dingus" as:
1. An article whose name is unknown or forgotten.
2. A person regarded as stupid.

Let Me Rethink My Lede

Wall Street Journal, April 21: The European Commission estimates state aid to business fell 8% from 2002 to 2003 in the 15 countries that were members of the European Union before enlargement last year. An article in Tuesday's World Watch column incorrectly said EU countries' financial subsidies for business and industry rose 7.8% from 2002 to 2003.

This correction pretty much washes out the entire article, entitled "EU Nations' Aid To Businesses Increases 7.8%."

Can We Pay in Ones?

Wall Street Journal, April 20: The joint bid by Time Warner Inc. and Comcast Corp. for Adelphia Communications Corp. includes roughly $12.5 billion in cash and $5.1 billion in stock. The initial version of the article incorrectly stated the bid consisted of $14.5 billion in cash and $3.1 billion in cash.

If the correction is right, the article initally had Time Warner Inc. and Comcast Corp. putting up their bid of $17.6 billion entirely in cash.

Mountain of a Bottom

Wall Street Journal, April 20: The Leisure & Arts item in the April 14 Inside column refers to Earl Scruggs as a Foggy Bottom Boy. In fact, Mr. Scruggs was a member of a band called the Foggy Mountain Boys.

You'd Think the Surrender Museum Sign Might Have Tipped Her Off

Los Angeles Times, April 24: The April 10 Her World column misidentified Reims Cathedral as the site of Germany's surrender to the Allies at the end of World War II. The document was actually signed at a schoolhouse near the Reims train station, now the Surrender Museum.

The author wrote, "... I took the train from Paris to Reims and Martha drove from Brussels. Our rendezvous point was inescapable: the front portal of the city's great Gothic cathedral, the coronation site for a long line of French kings. It was all but destroyed in World War I, but it was lovingly rebuilt and became the scene of Germany's surrender to the Allies on May 7, 1945."

But They Tried Hard

Los Angeles Times, April 19: A Week Ahead item in Monday's Calendar section about the upcoming film "The Game of Their Lives" said the U.S. men's soccer team won the World Cup in 1950. Uruguay won that year.

The article stated, "The film, which opens Friday, chronicles the Cinderella story of the U.S. soccer team that in 1950 scored one of the biggest upsets in sports history when it defeated the heavily favored English team to win the World Cup," later adding, "With 10 days to train and with funding practically nonexistent, they set off for Rio de Janeiro and sports history."

After beating England, the U.S. team lost to both Spain and Chile and finished at the bottom of Group B with a negative-four-goal differential. The U.S.—along with England—failed to advance to the medal round. The Uruguay team that ended up winning has a pretty cool story, too.

Galactic Mistake

Washington Post, April 22: The Mini Page, a children's syndicated feature that runs inside the second section of the Sunday comics, recently made two errors. In the April 10 edition about Wind Waves, Tsunamis and Tides, it incorrectly stated that the sun orbits Earth. The sentence should have read: "The orbit of the moon around Earth and Earth around the sun creates forces affecting tides." In the March 27 edition about the Netherlands, the name of Philips Electronics, a Dutch company, was misspelled.

The folks over at Mediabistro's FishbowlDC blog write "Ptolemy Would Be Proud."

Let's Not Get Out of Hand Here

Washington Post, April 21: The name of a Web log maintained by a founder of CatholicExchange.com, Mark Shea, was incorrectly reported in an April 20 article. The correct title is "Catholic and Enjoying It!"

Shea's blog was originally referred to as "Catholic and Loving It!"

Cool Glass of Oil

Newsday, April 21: The new food pyramid by the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that oils and fats make up a small portion of the daily diet. A graphic yesterday reversed the recommendations of the oil and milk groups. A more in-depth pyramid appears in The Fold on page A46-47.

The US government recommends that individuals drink three cups of milk each day.

Keep It Kosher

Philadelphia Inquirer, April 23: The Flourless Chocolate Torte recipe in Thursday's Inquirer Food section included confectioners' sugar, which can contain small amounts of cornstarch and may therefore be restricted for Passover use. The topping can be omitted, or granulated sugar substituted.

Chicago Tribune, April 21: In Sunday's Weekend Cook column in the Home & Garden section, the recipes for "Michael's chopped liver" and "Machaca brie for Passover" called for 1/4 cup of vegetable oil. For readers concerned about observing traditional Jewish dietary laws for Passover, they should make certain that the vegetable oil is labeled kosher for Passover.

A Recent Problem

Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 21: A story about jazz musician Charles Lloyd on the front page of the Arts & Life section Saturday incorrectly said Lloyd gave a recent telephone interview. The freelance writer who wrote the story used quotes from an interview he conducted with Lloyd about five years ago.

The reporter, Chris Hovan, had used many of the same quotes in a piece about Lloyd for All About Jazz in September 2000. The quote that Lloyd gave in 2000 for the album The Water is Wide appeared (slightly altered) in the Plain Dealer in reference to his newest effort, Jumping the Creek.

Like We Were Supposed To Know That

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 20: A story on the cover of Sunday's Metro section incorrectly reported St. Louis is Missouri's largest city. Kansas City is larger.

Dinner Date

Toronto Star, April 20: A story published yesterday said Warren Kinsella, a strategist for Premier Dalton McGuinty, met secretly with Tom Flanagan, an adviser to federal Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, and senior federal Tories at an "Albany Club strategy session" April 6.
In fact, Kinsella was at one of a series of occasional dinners of The Club with No Name. The private dinners are focused on politics, by invitation only, nonpartisan, held at different places and feature a guest speaker. On April 6 there were three speakers, including Flanagan. Kinsella's question to Flanagan was asked during a question-and-answer session after Flanagan spoke.

The Star titled its correction, "Secret strategy session was really just a dinner." The opening line of the article is, "Premier Dalton McGuinty's top political strategist has met secretly with Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's most trusted adviser."

David Goldenberg

David Goldenberg is the co-founder and editor of Gelf, and the host of Geeking Out, Gelf's monthly science speaking series.







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Article by David Goldenberg

David Goldenberg is the co-founder and editor of Gelf, and the host of Geeking Out, Gelf's monthly science speaking series.

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