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August 14, 2009

CJR Covers Bogus Quote Corrections

The Columbia Journalism Review today has a thorough article by Craig Silverman (of www.regrettheerror.com) about recent corrections at the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Toronto Star, Boston Globe, Time Magazine, and others, concerning a bogus quote attributed to former Israeli chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon. The corrections, prompted by CAMERA staff, were first described by CAMERA's Gilead Ini in his article "Demise of a Hoax Quote: CAMERA Prompts Article in Toronto Star, Corrections on Ya'alon Statement."

Silverman writes:

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, or CAMERA, a media watchdog founded to combat what was perceived as anti-Israeli press coverage, managed to get each of the aforementioned publications to print corrections. The hope now is that anyone tempted to use the quote will encounter the corrections and be forewarned.

What’s interesting is that each paper had a different process for issuing a correction, and the resulting corrections also varied in their content—reinforcing the reality that we have yet to establish an industry standard. This is a source of frustration to readers, viewers, and listeners demanding satisfaction for a factual error. . . .

Of note is the fact that two of the papers that seemed to do the best job handling the issue employ an ombudsman or a standards editor. This is important to keep in mind, given the ongoing disappearance of the newspaper ombudsman.

“To us, it seemed that the [Chicago] Tribune and Toronto Star corrections were the most thorough, and they also seemed to pursue it the most extensively and really tried to dig for the truth,” Ini said. “I wondered if one of reasons was that both have an editor whose role is to do this kind of thing.”

The Star even assigned a reporter to write a feature about the quote for this past Saturday’s paper. Among other details, the story explained why the quote appeared in the paper back in 2004. (The Star investigated the issue after CAMERA recently got in touch.) This, coupled with its clear and informative correction, should leave no doubt in the minds of readers about the nature of the mistake and the correct information.

Read the Toronto Star story here.

CAMERA yesterday notified Los Angeles Times Readers Representative Jamie Gold that the bogus quote also appeared in a June 17, 2003 Op-Ed by Rashid Khalidi in that paper ("Can Hamas Cut a Deal for Peace?"). We await word on a correction.

Posted by TS at August 14, 2009 02:16 PM

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