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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Friday, May 16, 2003

I Have A Good Idea... And So Did The WaPo

Get ready for the twentieth century! Corrections at the NY Times have been in the news recently, as a result of the Jayson Blair scandal. Well, it occurs to me, if the corrections process at the Times is so fraught with uncertainty, perhaps the Times ought to include bylines in their "Corrections" feature. The reporter got a byline when the story was first printed, right? Let's get them on the backside, then.

Here is a current cryptic correction at the Times (and I notice the link is undated, so I wonder if tomorrow the excerpt will still match. The joke continues):

A front-page article on Tuesday about bombings in Saudi Arabia misstated the theory of American investigators about the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers apartment block in Dhahran, which killed 19 members of the American military. (The error was repeated in an article on Wednesday.) United States officials have publicly stated that the attack was carried out by members of a pro-Iranian group known as Saudi Hezbollah. The United States government has also made those charges in federal court. The attack is not believed to have been the work of Al Qaeda.

OK, with Google or the NY Times search engine, I suppose I could figure out who wrote this, and make a mental note to keep an eye on them. But look what the WaPo offers at corrections on their website - the headline of the story in question, a link to the original story, and a sidebar explaining the correction. Very Good! And for the casual reader, recent corrections from days gone by. They make it look easy.

So, memo to the NY Times - this can be done, and should be done. Transparency! Get going.

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