Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What We Meant to Say....

When you look back at the dubious achievements of 2007, it's like surveying a giant buffet table.

I mean, where do you start? Subprime loans? Paris Hilton and/or Brtiney Spears? Lead tainted toys from China? Don Imus? Airline travel? Michael Vick? Donald Trump? Major League Baseball? The Coliseum Commission? George Bush? Nancy Pelosi? Larry Craig? Rosie O'Donnel? Any of the presidential wannabes?

What a feast.

But when this column set out to say so long to 2007, we decided to view it through the prism of newspaper corrections.

There's no deep significance in it. Indeed, after more than 40 years in the profession, it still amazes me that a group of people can produce a lively record of the day's events, usually flawlessly, in 12 hours or less. And then do it all again the next day. It's not called the daily miracle for nothin'.

But mistakes do get made. More often than not, they let us laugh at ourselves. Maybe it's best to look back on the year with a smile.

So, culled from Internet sources (including a website called Regret the Error), here are my favorite corrections of the year:

Running Mates: "A front-page article yesterday about the role that Barack Obama's wife, Michelle, is playing in his presidential campaign rendered incorrectly a word in a quotation from Valerie Jarrett, a friend of the Obamas who commented on their decision that he would run. She said in a telephone interview, 'Barack and Michelle thought long and hard about this decision before they made it' ---not that they 'fought' long and hard. (The New York Times).

Was There Anything Correct in This Story?: "Following the portrait of Tony and Cherie Blair published on 21 April in the Independent Saturday magazine, Ms. Blair's representatives have told us that she was friendly with but never had a relationship with Carole Caplin of the type suggested in the article. They want to make it clear, which we are happy to do, that Ms. Blair has never shared a shower with Ms. Caplin, was not introduced to spirit guides or primal wrestling by Ms. Caplin (or anyone else), and did not have her diary masterminded by Ms. Caplin. (The Independent Saturday (UK) magazine.

Why We Fight: "In an article in Monday's newspaper, there may have been a misperception about why a Woodstock man is going to Afghanistan on a voluntary mission. Kevin DeClark is going to Afghanistan to gain life experience to become a police officer when he returns, not to shoot guns and blow things up. The Sentinel-Review apologizes for any embarrassment this may have caused. (The Sentinel-Review, Woodstock, Ontario).

Who's Sorry Now: "A headline in Monday's Daily News, 'He regrets his role in Postal Vid,' implied that Richard Marino, the subject of a YouTube video, was sorry for an incident in December at a Brooklyn post office. Marino, in fact, is not sorry. (The New York Daily News).

Flag It: "An article in Wednesday's Calendar section about an English-language newspaper in Mexico City referred to the many U.S. ex-patriots who live there. It should have said expatriates." (Los Angeles Times)

You Say Tomato..."Our story on the price of tomatoes last week misquoted Alistair Petrie, general manager of Turners and Growers. Discussing the price of tomatoes Petrie was talking about retail rate not retail rape. We apologise for the misunderstanding." (Sunday Star-Times, New Zealand).

Bird Brained: "In Friday's article on Liz Hurley's wedding it was wrongly stated that the actress is holding a pheasant shoot on the Sunday after the ceremony. Game shooting is of course illegal on Sundays and the pheasant season ended on Feb 1. We apologise for the error and accept that if any shooting is to be done it will be by the paparazzi, who have no season and do not observe the Sabbath. (Daily Telegraph, UK).

Who's Sari Now: "A report 'From Bombay to Rajasthan'... stated that actor Elizabeth Hurley will wear a 4,000-pound sari by designer Tarun Tahiliani during her wedding in March. While one reader wondered how she would be able to lift the 1,800 kg sari, another reader said there are possible fears about the bride being reduced to pulp by its weight. It was an error. The word 'pound' was used instead of the currency symbol for pound sterling. The Hindu

Par for the Course: "In a report about the Scottish elections, an editing error led to us wrongly suggesting that John Swinburne of the Scottish Senior Citizens' Unity Party had been accused of allegedly causing a breach of the peace by running amok in a polling station with a golf club. We apologise to Mr Swinburne for any embarrassment or distress caused." (The Guardian, UK).

How Many Words for Error? "An item in the Sunday Magazine referred to a popular but unfounded notion that Eskimos have dozens of words for snow, in this case 40. The item failed to note that the assertion has been debunked by linguists and others. " (Chicago Tribune).
Talk Show Hosts All Look Alike: "A Newsmakers item on Page A2 Sunday incorrectly attributed a quote to the Rev. Al Sharpton. The item should have said that nationally syndicated radio host Don Imus described Rutgers women's basketball players as 'nappy-headed hos' during a segment of his show Wednesday. Austin American-Statesmen.

It Sure Sounded Correct: "A Nov. 19 article about a new study indicating that Detroit is the most dangerous U.S. city incorrectly stated that Detroit has seen nearly one million people killed since 1950. In fact, that number represents the overall decline in Detroit's population since 1950, not the number of people killed." (Toronto Star).

Was There Anything Correct in This Story, Part II: "An article about Lord Lambton...falsely stated that his son Ned (now Lord Durham) and daughter Catherine held a party at Lord Lambton's villa, Cetinale, in 1997, which degenerated into such an orgy that Lord Lambton banned them from Cetinale for years. In fact, Lord Durham does not have a sister called Catherine (that is the name of his former wife), there has not been any orgiastic party of any kind and Lord Lambton did not ban him (or Catherine) from Cetinale at all. We apologise sincerely to Lord Durham for the hurt and embarrassment caused." (Sunday Times, UK).

Thanks for Clearing That Up: "No test samples were sent to Cork University Hospital. And that's all we're telling you." (Irish Times).

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