Sunday, January 20, 2008

Newspaper corrections I laughed at

About eight paragraphs down in Raleigh News & Observer public editor Ted Vaden’s column today you come to:

"Errors are a major contributor to an erosion in the level of trust in the press," writes Craig Silverman in a new book, "Regret the Error." "Once this trust begins to be lost, the rights of the press and indeed of speech itself are threatened. It is then a matter of time until laws are enacted that impinge on the press's right to publish accurate reports and alternate views that inform and encourage public discourse."

That someone could produce a 366-page book on newspaper errors -- or that anyone would read it -- is a surprise to me. But Silverman has plenty of material to work with, unfortunately, and his book is getting a lot of interest from those of us in the inky trade.

He cites some amusing examples:

* From Newsweek: "In the original version of this report, Newsweek misquoted Falwell as referring to 'assault ministry.' In fact, Falwell was referring to 'a salt ministry,' -- a reference to Matthew 5:13, where Jesus says, 'Ye are the salt of the earth.' "

* From The Daily Mail (UK): "Mr Smith said in court, 'I am terribly sorry. I have a dull life and I suddenly wanted to break away.' He did not say, as we reported erroneously, 'I have a dull wife and I suddenly wanted to break away.' We apologise to Mr Smith, and to Mrs Smith."
The Mail’s “apologise” is a British spelling.

How many laughs did you count in the Vaden column extract?

I’m sure we all counted the Newsweek and Daily Mail corrections.

But how did you react when Vaden told readers he was surprised “someone could produce a 366-page book on newspaper errors -- or that anyone would read it?”

Laugh? Groan? Some of each?

I think if I were not familiar with Vaden and his columns I’d have groaned.

But I laughed.

I laughed again when Vaden told readers:
Some of my favorite corrections come from The New York Times, which is scrupulous to the point of anal about correcting errors.
Yes, I know I shouldn’t laugh at that.

But with all we know about NY Times errors and its reluctance to admit them, I just found it funny that Vaden would say that and expect informed readers to believe it.

Or maybe he’s not writing for informed readers?

I reported. You decide.

Vaden’s entire column is here.


Anonymous said...


Ted Vaden can't be writing for informed readers.

He's not informed himself.

Keep up the great work.

Anonymous said...

Will the N&O be held accountable for inflaming readers with its awful lacrosse coverage in late 2006, setting the tone for the national narrative and enabling Nifong to frame the players?