Reviews | Don’t send journalistic transparency back to the memory hole

We cannot very well accuse the To post to hide his mistakes: in fact, by disseminating Farhi’s article, the To post tied a hot pink bow to her modified backrest cover. So let’s salute the To post to correct the first draft based on new findings. We also congratulate the newspaper’s media critic, Erik Wemple, for his investigations into errors made by the press in covering its files. Other points of sale should be as aggressive in correcting the file.

What is special about the To postS error correction method was his decision to vaporize the two original stories. Original stories cannot be retrieved from LexisNexis because the To post left this database at the end of 2020. To post spokesperson Kristine Coratti Kelly tells me that deleted pages can be found on Factiva, a Dow Jones subscription database, but Factiva costs around $ 249 per month, which is costly for readers who can’t get by. allow the service to accurately determine which first draft of the log the project went wrong and how it was edited. Such a reworking of a years-old copy is so rare that it approaches the unprecedented, as American University media history professor W. Joseph Campbell told Farhi. Stephen Bates, a journalism professor at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, agrees. “It’s hard to have a registration document if the record is constantly changing,” Bates says.

Our main beef is not just the To post missed a story. Lots of point-of-sale stories. Many have given too much credit to the story of the Steele case, as Bill Grueskin has just detailed. The question is how the newspaper should deal with its hiccups in light of new information. Normally, when outlets make mistakes, they note it in a corrections column and append the correction to the original in the web archive to make both the error and the revision transparent. Often, such corrections require moderate rewrites, but rarely to the extent of the To post‘s two record stories. (The To post the changes are already sending ripples through the mediaphere. Yesterday POLITICO rewrote two paragraphs in a 2019 story and added an editor’s note to reflect the To postis reworking his copy.)

Accountability requires journalists to show how their work was flawed if they choose to correct or retract. (The To post did not retract his piece, reported Farhi.) In 1981, when the Washington post was outraged by the fabulism of Janet Cooke’s “Jimmy’s World” story, allegedly about a child drug addict, To post Ombudsman Bill Green filed a 14,600 word account of how the newspaper was duped, an account To post still hosts on its website. When Jayson Blair’s fabulism rocked the New York Times in 2003, the journal preserved dozens of blair stories in which he lied or plagiarized on its site with editor’s notes detailing his deceptions, and it published a lengthy investigation into his misdeeds. (The TimesThe Blair page links are broken now, but the stories can be easily searched on Google by title.)

This type of transparency is superior to the rewrite and erase strategy To post just deployed. Readers shouldn’t have to purchase expensive news databases to determine which newspapers were originally published. But all is not lost. Thanks to the Internet Archive, the entrepreneur can retrieve To postdefeated pages. To save you time when using the archives – it took me a while to locate the pages – here are the URLs of the To postoriginal exhibits from March 29, 2017 and February 7, 2019. The rewritten pages can be found on the To post(here and here, respectively). To save you the trouble of comparing, here are textual comparisons of the March 29 and February 7 coins.

In pre-web days, the best way to keep tabs on a newspaper’s honesty quotient (unless you stole someone’s LexisNexis account) was to cut articles or check microfilm. . Then came the web, and it became easy to compose the last pages of a newspaper. But not more. In some publications, the written document may be erased if it contains embarrassing information. Now the To post throws old flawed stories down memory lane. Is this how journalism dies … in the dark?


Ten years ago, I tried to trace the origin of the “first draft in history”. Later my friend Michel socolow found an even older record than mine, dating back to 1914. Can anyone beat Socolow? Send quote to [email protected]. My email alerts are first, my Twitter feed is all draft, my RSS feed is approximate.

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