Thursday, March 06, 2008

Regretting The Error

After JB spotted an obvious error in a New York Post story the other day (recounted here), he e-mailed the reporter--Charles Hurt, the Post's DC Bureau Chief--to make him aware of his mistake.

Now, he has received a reply and an admission of guilt. Sort of:

Doubtless, you are right. I promise you it was an error that was inserted at copy desk level. It will be fixed if it hasn't already. In any event, thank you for bringing to my attention and thank you for reading the Post.

Those darn gatekeepers. When they're not asleep at the gate, letting all sorts of misinformation slip through, they're changing the reporters' work to introduce errors!

This actually makes this instance an even more glaring example of media ignorance. The reporter correctly writes that McCain was held captive by the North Vietnamese (at least according to his claim). A copy editor then decides that's incorrect and changes it to Viet Cong. At that point, he had to be damn sure that the reporter was wrong. So sure, that he didn't bother to take ten seconds to verify the facts.

It's bad enough for a reporter to make a mistake through carelessness, laziness, or ignorance. But it's even worse when a editor makes a mistake by changing the reporters' original work. If you're going to step in and make a "correction," you better be absolutely certain that you're right.

Don't worry folks, the gatekeepers are on the job.

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