As is the habit of this column at this time of year, we pause to take
a look back, not at world events or notable deaths or achievement in
sport, but at newspaper corrections.
It’s certainly not an attempt to mock the field of journalism. After
all, the profession has kept a roof over the head and food on the
table of this column’s author for a good many years.
Rather, it’s a reminder that in the act of producing hundreds of
millions of words each year, sometimes an error slips through. It
keeps us vigilant but humble.
More importantly, it’s often downright funny.
What follows, then, are the coveted Mea Culpa Awards for 2011, based
on data culled from Internet sources and our own personal collection.
You Say Obama, I Say Osama
It was natural that when troops commanded by Barack Obama killed
Osama bin Laden, confusion would result. But the Sacramento Bee
managed to mangle the names twice. Their correction: “A Washington
Post story on Page A12 on May 2 and a McClatchy Newspapers Washington
Bureau story on Page A13 on May 6 mistakenly used the name Obama
instead of Osama in references to Osama bin Laden.”
Food for Thought
A recipe for honey nut banana muffins included a comment that “you
may want to add a little fried fruit to the mix … to make the flavor
more interesting”. Dried fruit, that should be. The Guardian, U.K.
In a recipe for courgette risotto, one ingredient was “200ml white
wine vinegar”. The result was not ideal. It should have been white
wine. The Guardian.
Chile's Supreme Court has ordered a newspaper to pay $125,000 to 13
people who suffered burns while trying out a published recipe for
churros, a popular Latin American snack of dough fried in hot oil.
Judges determined that the newspaper failed to fully test it before
publication, and that if readers followed the recipe exactly, the
churros had a good chance of exploding once the oil reached the
On a page of news briefs, a small photo purported to show “Lady Gaga,
wearing a jewel-encrusted lobster on her head”. A reader notes: “She
is wearing a crayfish.” Of course. The Guardian.
Words, Words, Words
A clue in yesterday’s Quick crossword was “small mollusk”. The answer
sought was shrimp, which is not a mollusk but a crustacean. The
An item in the Extra Bases baseball notebook last Sunday
misidentified, in some editions, the origin of the name Orcrist the
Goblin Cleaver, which Mets pitcher R. A. Dickey gave one of his bats.
Orcrist was not, as Dickey had said, the name of the sword used by
Bilbo Baggins in the Misty Mountains in “The Hobbit”; Orcrist was the
sword used by the dwarf Thorin Oakenshield in the book. (Bilbo
Baggins’s sword was called Sting.) New York Times
Camper Killed By Fumes was corrected because the original referred to
Ysbyty Gwynedd hospital. This is tautologous; “Ysbyty” means hospital
in Welsh. The Guardian.
Last week’s column revealed that I was the third born of the four
Abraham children, which was news to my brothers and sister. For the
record, I was the second born. Eastern Courrier.
Quotations in a story about the Istrouma High School-Broadmoor High
School football game that appeared in The Advocate on Saturday, Oct.
29, were wrongly attributed to Broadmoor coach Rusty Price. The
reporter who wrote the story thought he was interviewing coach Price
after the game. Because the interview subject was not Price, the
reporter is unsure whom he spoke with. Baton Rouge Advocate.
In yesterday’s Western Daily Press we carried a photograph with a
caption referring to the Welsh mezzo-soprano Katharine Jenkins.
Unfortunately a technical error failed to update the picture on the
page before it was printed. We would like to apologize to Miss
Jenkins for any embarrassment caused. The printed picture showed
Conservative MP for Hendon Matthew Offord and his dog Maximus taking
part in the Westminster Dog of the Year event at Victoria. Western
Daily Press, Australia.
Bad Ideas, Badly Executed
A story in Saturday’s Real Deal section suggested that a fun thing to
do for Halloween is to write “poison” on a plastic jar or bottle and
fill it with candy for the kids to eat. A picture that accompanied
the story showed a skull and crossbones image similar to the symbol
used to indicate something is poisonous. The Citizen understands the
need to train children not to touch and never to eat or drink from
bottles or jars with that symbol on it, and it was a lapse in
judgment for us to have suggested otherwise. Ottawa Citizen.
The Skeney Says column in Saturday’s Townsville Bulletin described
her state after receiving surgery at a dental practice on Kings Road.
The line “my cotton-wool-stuffed face squished against the window,
eyes rolled back at them and slack jaw drooling blood down my chin”
was an exaggeration for the purpose of humor and was not intended to
reflect on the services of the surgery. On the contrary, Skene was
treated exceptionally well by the practice through the whole process,
and is sorry for any misunderstanding her piece may have caused.
No Typos, Just Bad Reporting
A Comment piece about voting rights for prisoners said that even if
all the inmates of Durham prison turned out and voted in the same way
they could not put a dent in MP Pat Glass’s majority. Indeed they
could not: the prison is not in Glass’s North West Durham
constituency. The Guardian.
On Aug. 3 this year the Daily Mirror published an article regarding
the death of Miss Catherine Zaks, aged 21, in Krakow, Poland. The
article contained claims that Miss Zaks, from Robertsbridge, East
Sussex, abused drugs and had engaged in casual sex following the
break-up of a long-term relationship. Miss Zaks’ parents have pointed
out that these claims are entirely false and that their daughter was
much loved, and of good character. We are happy to set the record
straight and apologize for any distress caused. Daily Mirror, U.K.
An item published in The Australian on Nov.15 (Strewth, “Losing the
threads”, page 13) referred to a report in The Zimbabwe Guardian that
Jacqueline Zwambila, the Zimbabwean ambassador to Australia, stripped
to her underwear in front of three male embassy officials. Ms.
Zwambila denies the allegations, and a governmental investigation in
Zimbabwe has cleared her of any misconduct charges. The Australian
apologizes to Ms Zwambila. The Australian.
There was an error printed in the story titled “Pigs Float Down the
Dawson”…The story, by reporter Daniel Burdon, said “more than 30,000
pigs were floating down the Dawson River.” What…piggery owner Sid
Everingham actually said was “30 sows and pigs,” not “30,000 pigs.
The Morning Bulletin, Australia.
In an article published on The Sun website we incorrectly stated that
Julian Brooker, 23, of Brighton, was blown 15ft into the air after
accidentally touching a live railway line. His parents have asked us
to make clear he was not turned into a fireball, was not obsessed
with the number 23 and didn’t go drinking on that date every month.
Julian’s mother did not say, during or after the inquest, her son
often got on all fours creeping around their house pretending to be
Gollum. The Sun, U.K.
…And This Column’s Personal Favorites
Our panel listing the expected highlights at Glastonbury this summer
catapulted into the festival’s headliners a band not so much obscure
as unknown, even to those expert in Judaic contributions to rock. The
group Frightened Rabbi should have been the Scottish band Frightened
Rabbit. The Guardian.