It's been a tough week at the New York Post. When news first
broke of the bombing at the Boston Marathon, the Post was far ahead of other
media outlets, reporting that 12 people had been killed in the attack. It all
seemed very plausible, and it wasn't out of the realm of possibility that the
Post had some iron-clad law enforcement source feeding it casualty reports that
bordered on the clairvoyant.
it all fell apart. Every media outlet not named the New York Post nailed
down the death toll at three, and the Post was left looking rather silly. Then the
paper reported that a Saudi national kept under guard at a local hospital had
been named a "suspect." That too turned out to be false. Today, the Post
managed to really outdo itself, splashing a photo of two dark-skinned young
men whom the paper claimed were sought by the FBI. "BAG MEN," the
headline screamed, "Feds seek these two pictured at Boston Marathon." ABC
down one of the two men, a 17-year-old runner named Salah Barhoun, who said
he had decided to watch the race when he couldn't run it. "It's the worst
feeling that I can possibly feel," he told ABC. "I'm only 17."
Call it the tabloid death-spiral: attempting to make readers
forget yesterday's inaccuracies with even worse conjecture on today's front
page. When asked to comment on the article, Post editor Col Allan said
he stands by the story:
We stand by our story. The image was emailed to law
enforcement agencies yesterday afternoon seeking information about these men,
as our story reported. We did not identify them as suspects.
This afternoon, the Post caught up somewhat to the facts, reporting
that the two men on their cover had been cleared by investigators.
In all fairness, the paper has gotten some things right in
its coverage. As Vanity Fair points
out (for another priceless take on the paper's editorial strategy, see the Onion):
The New York Post correctly reported that the
Boston Marathon takes place in Boston, Massachusetts.
- "Boston" is spelled correctly.
- The current governor of the state is Deval
- Participants in the Boston Marathon are, in
American English, colloquially referred to as "runners."
- Massachusetts General Hospital is a medical facility.
So what's going on at the Post? In its
initial story on the attacks -- the one that pegged the death toll at 12 --
the paper has simply scrubbed its initial, inaccurate reporting from the
story. The number "12" is nowhere to be found, nor is a death toll. Instead,
the paper simply offers: "More than 130 people were injured today as multiple
explosions rocked the Boston Marathon in a 'coordinated' terror
attack." Meanwhile, its story on the
Saudi "suspect" remains
online without a correction, editor's note, or any kind of acknowledgement that
it is completely false.
In situations like this, standard journalistic practice
would mandate that the Post correct its inaccurate reporting. But since the paper
isn't bothering to do so -- on one of the
year's biggest stories, no less -- we have tracked down every correction the Post has
issued in 2013 -- four in total as far. That's right, over four and a half months of
coverage, the Post has issued only four corrections by our count.
these corrections, we searched the Post's website using several methods,
including its internal search tool, a Google site search, and an examination of
its RSS feeds (the website does not appear to have a devoted section for corrections) .
Here, then, are the four corrections issued by the Post in 2013:
The Post reported yesterday that former Rep. Anthony Weiner
had landed a job as a consultant with Concept Capital Markets, a brokerage
firm. This is incorrect. The firm has not employed Weiner in any capacity.
In a story published in Tuesday's Post, a woman found dead
on subway tracks in lower Manhatan [sic] was misidentified by a relative as an
NYU student. Emily Singleton attended The Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater.
Editor's note: Yes, the
New York Post really misspelled "Manhattan" in a correction.
In the April 10 Media Ink on potential candidates to lead
Time Inc as CEO, the wrong job titles were reported for two rumored to be in
the running. Former Time magazine President Eileen Naughton is now vice
president of global sales at Google. Howard Averill is the Time Inc.
chief financial officer.
A retired executive at the Food and Drug Administration
claimed in a 1987 interview that a lawmaker stopped a probe into Herbalife.
Also, Sen. Orrin Hatch, in the '80s, headed the Labor and Human Resources
Committee and now is ranking member of the Finance Committee, which doesn't
oversee the FDA. This information was incorrectly reported in a story on page
32 on March 29.
With that in mind, consider some of the corrections issued
by the New York Times during the past week.
From Monday to Thursday, the Times issued 28 corrections in total, the
highlights of which are here:
An article on April 6 about the deaths of two horses
at the Grand National meeting at Aintree Racecourse in England misidentified,
in some editions, the race in which the horse Little Josh broke a shoulder and
was euthanized. It was the Topham Steeplechase, not the Melling Steeplechase.
last Wednesday about Japanese restaurants known as izakayas misstated the name
of a yogurt-flavored drink popular in Japan. It is Calpico, not Capilco.
on April 6 about the comic-book artist Carmine Infantino referred incorrectly
to his work on the DC Comics character the Flash. The original Flash series was
discontinued in 1949, and Mr. Infantino and the writer Robert Kanigher were
assigned to create a new version of the character in 1956; the title was not
"selling poorly" and "threatened with cancellation" at that time. And a caption
with a picture of Mr. Infantino carried an erroneous credit. The photograph was
taken by Bill Crawford, not by Marc Witz.
Never mind correct casualty counts, Times editors are apparently
even concerned about the name of Japanese yogurt-flavored drinks. It's enough
to make one wonder what the Post's editors
do all day.