Sunday, February 01, 2009

Regret or Remove The Error?

After reading a story in Friday's WSJ on John Madden called NFL Analyst John Madden Often Brilliant, Even if Not Always Right--that highlighted some of the mistakes that Madden had made on air of late--I was all ready to bust the author Matthew Futterman for making a rather egregious misstatement himself. In the original print version of the story he wrote:

As a broadcaster, Mr. Madden remains the standard-bearer of the old guard -- the gruff, barstool voice that harkens back to a time when a famous group of linemen were known as "the Hogs" and clumps of mud got stuck in players' facemasks(most teams now play on artificial turf). Nostalgia may be a large part of his enduring appeal: According to Scarborough Sports Marketing, 69% of all NFL fans are over the age of 35.

The claim that "most teams now play on artificial turf" didn't sound right to me. Sure enough, if you check out a list of current National Football League stadiums you see that nineteen of the thirty-one teams play on grass. A clear and obvious error on Futterman's part.

But if you check out the online version of the story now, you'll find no such error. It's been removed, whitewashed from the story with no hint that it ever was there. If you read the article's comments, you can see that others also caught Futterman's blunder and called him on it. Which is probably what lead to the removal of the error.

Obviously we want to see mistakes corrected. But they should also be acknowledged. I'm not sure what the Journal's policy is on this, but there should at least be a note online saying that a correction had been made.

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