Gelf Magazine - Looking over the overlooked

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June 27, 2005

Corrections 6/20-6/27

An asinine mistake; the Volkswagen Gol; Korean confusions; 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.

A Kennedy Controversy

Salon/Rolling Stone, June 17: The story "Deadly Immunity" has been updated to correct inaccuracies in the original version. As originally reported, American preschoolers received only three vaccinations before 1989, but the article failed to note that they were innoculated a total of 11 times with those vaccines, including boosters. The article also 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 40 percent, not 187 times, greater than the EPA's limit for daily exposure to methylmercury. Finally, because of an editing error, the article misstated the contents of the rotavirus vaccine approved by the CDC. It did not contain thimerosal. The story has been corrected. Salon and Rolling Stone regret the errors.

Salon/Rolling Stone, June 22: An earlier version of "Deadly Immunity" stated that the Institute of Medicine convened a second panel to review the work of the Immunization Safety Review Committee that had found no evidence of a link between thimerosal and autism. In fact, the IOM convened the second panel to address continuing concerns about the Vaccine Safety Datalink data-sharing program, including those raised by critics of the IOM's earlier work. But the panel was not charged with reviewing the committee's findings. Salon and Rolling Stone regret the error.

Salon/rolling Stone, June 24: An earlier version of "Deadly Immunity" inadvertently dropped a word and transposed two sentences in a quote by Dr. John Clements. It also incorrectly stated that Dr. Sam Katz held a patent with Merck on the measles vaccine. In fact, Dr. Katz was part of a team that developed the vaccine and brought it to licensure, but he never held the patent. The story has been corrected. Salon and Rolling Stone regret the errors.

This story, written by Robert Kennedy, Jr., alleges that agencies in the government have conspired to cover up research that links the thimerosal in some childhood vaccines to autism. It has generated a fair share of controversy; perhaps the increased scrutiny is one reason why it keeps getting corrected. (The increased scrutiny has not, however, forced Salon to spell "inoculated" correctly in its correction.)

Every correction issued so far has lessened Kennedy's point. Compare the following two statements—the first is how it appeared in the original article, the second is the corrected version:

Dr. John Clements, vaccines advisor at the World Health Organization, declared flatly that the study "should not have been done at all" and warned that the results "will be taken by others and will be used in ways beyond the control of this group. The research results have to be handled."

Dr. John Clements, vaccines advisor at the World Health Organization, declared that "perhaps this study should not have been done at all." He added that "the research results have to be handled," warning that the study "will be taken by others and will be used in other ways beyond the control of this group."

An editorial in the St. Paul Pioneer Press claims that rather than contributing to an important discussion, the article is merely fanning political flames. "Kennedy's inflammatory prose might grab media attention—the media understand political scandal better than biochemistry—but it also considerably degrades the thimerosal discussion."

When You Assume, Something Happens to U and Me

Wall Street Journal, June 20: In ancient Rome, asses were a kind of coin used as currency. Wednesday's Deja Vu column erroneously said that Roman sumptuary laws limited the number of animals, including donkeys, that could be spent at festivals and parties.
From the article: "For a time in ancient Rome, people weren't allowed to spend more than 100 asses—animals being the common currency then—to celebrate certain festivals. On nonfestival days, Roman citizens could invest only 10 donkeys in a party and serve no fowl except one hen—'and that not fattened for the purpose.' "

A Pissing Match

Los Angeles Times, June 26: A June 19 Opinion article said performance artist John Fleck received taxpayer money for a piece featuring a toilet with a picture of Jesus on its lid. The National Endowment for the Arts denied Fleck funding in 1990, and the Supreme Court upheld its decision in 1998.
In the piece, Christopher Cole compares the current Koran-in-the-toilet flap to the controversy that that emerged over work by artists like Fleck and Andres Serrano, who did receive government funding for a piece of art featuring a crucifix submerged in urine. In a letter to the Times, Fleck writes, "This is where Cole (and the pundits who denounced my work) took a moment out of context and twisted my 'artistic intent,' which was not to desecrate but to expand our views of how religion and personal experience coexist on a cultural and existential tangent. Whereas I doubt the U.S. soldiers allegedly splashing the Koran with urine at Guantanamo Bay did so with any artistic intent, and unlike a theater, the prisoners, forcibly and possibly illegally detained, had no choice in staying or leaving."

Black and White and Read All Over

Chicago Tribune, June 21: A story and a headline in some zones of Saturday's paper overstated the results of a study intended to address racial profiling in Chicago. The study found that blacks are stopped at a higher rate than other minorities and non-minorities, but it did not conclude racial profiling was taking place.
The most recent title for the story is "Study finds high rate of black traffic stops." Previous titles include "Blacks targeted more often for traffic stops" and "Study finds high black profiling in '04 traffic stops."

But It Would Have Been a Cool Anecdote

Slate, June 24: In a June 20 "Sports Nut," Robert Weintraub wrote that soccer-mad Argentines modify the model name on Volkswagen Golfs so they read "Gol." The Volkswagen Gol is a different model than the Golf.

Close, But No Cigar

New York Times, June 26: An "In the Region" article in New Jersey and Manhattan copies on June 12 about the restoration of a mansion in Bernardsville, N.J., misstated the celebrated smoking preference of Representative Millicent Fenwick, who summered there as a girl in the early 1900's. She was known for smoking a pipe, not a cigar.
Here's a picture of the congresswoman lighting a bowl.

Let's Get Ready to Corr-ect!

Los Angeles Times, June 22: An article in Sunday's Calendar section about the film "The L.A. Riot Spectacular" described sportscaster Michael Buffer as arriving at the intersection of Florence and Normandie at the time of the 1992 riots to deliver his signature rallying cry, "Let's get ready to rumble." The line was actually "Let's get ready to riot." The article incompletely described the film as being in negotiations for DVD release. It is also in discussions for theatrical distribution.

Los Angeles Times, June 23: A correction Wednesday for a Sunday Calendar section article about the film "The L.A. Riot Spectacular" incorrectly called boxing-ring announcer Michael Buffer a sportscaster.

In Case You Have a Time Machine, and are Interested in Modern Dance

New York Times, June 26: A picture caption on June 12 with the dance report on the Week Ahead page misidentified the event at which the Urban Bush Women were to perform that week. It was the American Dance Festival, as the report said, not the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival. The picture credit was also misspelled. The photographer was Antoine Tempé.

Medicaid on Life Support

New York Times, June 26: Because of an editing error, an article last Sunday about attempts to overhaul Medicaid misstated the intentions of Representative Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas who heads the energy and commerce committee. He said he expected to change the program, not to cut it.
From the article: "Representative Joe L. Barton, a Texas Republican, said in an interview that he would produce legislation this year that would cut Medicaid spending." In an address earlier this year, Barton did say, "We have reached a point where there just are not enough taxes or taxpayers to keep Medicaid going."

Boroughed Under

New York Times, June 26: A chart last Sunday listing odd facts about Brooklyn misstated the number of copies of the novel "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" in the borough's public library system. It is 383. (Thirteen is the number of entries for the book in the library's online catalog.)

Like Rain on Your Wedding Day

Wall Street Journal, June 23: Long-term interest rates have gone down as the Federal Reserve has raised short-term rates. Yesterday's Long & Short column incorrectly said long-term rates have gone up.

Undermining Their Case?


Washington Post
, June 21: In a June 20 article about Harvard University business professor Max H. Bazerman, who said he was asked to soften his testimony about recommended penalties for the tobacco industry by a senior Justice Department official, several words were dropped from one sentence. The sentence should have read: Bazerman said in an interview yesterday that he is coming forward now because of recent reports in The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times that the career trial team had been pressured by senior political appointees at Justice to weaken their case and urged other witnesses to soften their testimony against the industry.
The original article had Bazerman pinning the blame on the trial team. "Bazerman said in an interview yesterday that he is coming forward now because of recent reports in The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times that the career trial team had pressured senior political appointees at Justice to weaken their case and urged other witnesses to soften their testimony against the industry."

Unqualified? Nope, Just Uninterested

Boston Globe, June 26: Due to a reporting error, North Reading Selectwoman Marci Bailey was misquoted in a June 12 story in Globe NorthWest about the state Ethics Commission investigating a conflict-of-interest allegation against Martin Weiss, chairman of the Conservation Commission. Bailey did not say selectmen elevated associate Conservation Commission member Kathleen Legere to full membership this year because she was better qualified than former associate commissioner David Long. Long did not want the post.
From the original article: "Bailey said selectmen elevated Kathleen Legere, an associate member, to full membership on the commission this year instead of Long because they believed Legere was better qualified."

Know Your Korean History, Kids

Boston Globe, June 21: The Surfing the Net with Kids column on Friday's Comics pages incorrectly said the Korean War ended in 1956. The armistice was signed in 1953.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune, June 14: In the Isaac Asimov Super Quiz on Page E7 Saturday, the sample answer misidentified Ho Chi Minh. He was the founder and president of North Vietnam.
The example from the World Politics section: "Who led North Korea during the Vietnam War? Answer: Ho Chi Minh."

Inelegant Elgin Expansion

Chicago Tribune, June 23: A story in Sunday's Real Estate section on Elgin's residential expansion gave an incorrect figure for the number of homes to be built by Terrestris in its Stony Creek East and West developments. The correct number is 940, according to the City of Elgin.

- Additionally, the story characterized 14,000 homes planned in Elgin's expansion as having been approved. That number, instead, represents homes approved or under review.

- Also, specific figures for Elgin's expansion are based on the city's 2005 expansion plan and may change as those plans advance through Elgin's review process.
Regret the Error writes, "If you understand what's going on in Elgin, email the Trib."

Is There Room in the Budget for a 'Not'?

Minneapolis Star-Tribune, June 23: A story and display type on Page B3 Wednesday mistakenly reported that the budget for the new downtown Minneapolis library has experienced cost overruns. The budget has been increased to reflect additional projects such as a "green" roof and preparing for a planetarium, and the success in private fundraising. Library project manager Rick Johnson's quote should have read: "It does not mean we are over budget."
"It does mean we are over budget," Johnson is quoted as saying in the original article.

We've Whacked People for Less

Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 22: Because of a page designer's error, a line from the movie "The Godfather" was misquoted in a chart on the front page of the Arts & Life section Tuesday. Marlon Brando, in the role of Vito Corleone, said: "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse."

Terrible Terrapins

Baltimore Sun, June 24: An article yesterday misstated the number of University of Maryland, College Park students arrested after a February basketball game against Duke University and did not clearly state the date of another incident at a basketball game. Of the 14 people arrested in February, seven were university students. Students chanted obscenities after a Duke game in January 2004.
Maryland fans are notorious for their fervor; a frequent target of their wrath is Duke's All-American guard J.J. Redick. (See this Gelf article to find out why.)

Read Your Own Damn Paper

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 23: An editorial Wednesday said The Milwaukee Journal sued former Milwaukee Police Chief Harold Breier over the release of names of people arrested. In fact, the chief was willing to release the names; the suit was over releasing the reason for the arrests. The court ruled that, in addition to knowing who is arrested, the public is entitled to know the reason for the arrest. The editorial also misspelled the name of Madison media attorney Robert J. Dreps.
From the article: "Years ago, The Milwaukee Journal took then-Police Chief Harold Brier to court—and won—over the release of names of people arrested. As Madison attorney Robert Dreps told us, the court's message was clear: 'We don't allow secret arrests.' The police do not get to hold suspects in custody without telling the public who those people are. These aren't terrorists, and this isn't Guantanamo Bay."

Incensed, but Gender-Neutral

The Oregonian, June 25: Peter Bragdon, Gov. Ted Kulongoski's former chief of staff, earlier this year referred to Sen. Vicki Walker, D-Eugene, as a "very angry person." An article in Friday's Metro section included an incorrect version of that remark.
The article states, "Peter Bragdon, the governor's former chief of staff, has called her an 'angry woman' who boils down issues to personality disputes."

Innumeracy Problems

Washington Times, June 20: Due to an editing error, The Washington Times yesterday incorrectly reported the number of participants who attended a ceremony for fathers who died in Iraq or Afghanistan during U.S. military operations. About 10 children attended the ceremony.
The original article states, "About 1,000 children whose fathers had been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan also attended the ceremony yesterday."

Detroit Free Press, June 23: Information with an article about reducing the salaried workforce at Ford Motor Co. incorrectly said the company has about 1.8 million shares outstanding. The correct number is 1.8 billion shares.

Dallas Morning News, June 24: A June 23 article incorrectly said that illegal immigration is at 11 million to 12 million people per year. That is the estimate for the total number of illegal immigrants in the U.S.

Why would He Lie about That?

Saginaw News, June 21: Antonne L. McKinney, 36, who faces charges of unlawfully driving away a motor vehicle, failing to stop after a collision, operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and driving with a forged license Dec. 3, 2004, on Douglas near Gilmore, listed his address in court records as 3921 Webber in Saginaw. A resident at that address, however, said McKinney does not live there.

More Address Issues

Tampa Tribune, June 23: David Lamb, a registered sexual predator, lives a street away from the Vasconcellos family. An article in Monday's Metro section had an incorrect location.
The article starts, "Four-year-old Josh Vasconcellos used to spend his afternoons playing outside and riding his Power Wheels Jeep around his Lakeland neighborhood.
But Josh isn't allowed to play outside anymore since a sexual predator moved in two houses down from his home last month."

Maybe it was the Guy from Tiger Beat

Orlando Sentinel, June 22: A Soundboard column item on Page 37 of Friday's Calendar section incorrectly described some of the participants in a teleconference interview with the Backstreet Boys. Correspondents from Popstar! and Teen Scene magazines were not those who were "gushing" on the call. Other participants acted in that manner.
The author starts the article like this: "Two hours. That's how much time the Backstreet Boys were going to suck out of my life this week in a teleconference interview with journalists, if you expand that term to include gushing correspondents from Teen Scene and Pop Star magazines." For the record, that's Popstar! to you. And Teen Scene just did a hard-hitting piece about steroids in sports.

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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