Will They Ever Learn?

A looming deadline and a computer that has the vapors may shorten and delay these entries. Sorry for the inconvenience.

The New York Times has again demonstrated that it should never have pared its copy editors and fact checkers. The following series of gaffes and corrections deomonstrates why.

The original article, only 108 words, accompanied a series on the year in pictures, an award-winning montage, that ran online December 24, 2009 and in the dead trees and ink version on December 27.

The essay accompanying the poignant photograph of Edward Kennedy III saluting from the back of the limousine during his grandfather’s funeral said, among other things, that Edward M. Kennedy had served in the U.S. Senate for forty-six years and that he entered the Senate the year before his brother, President John Kennedy, was assassinated.

On January 3, a 110-word correction appeared saying that Kennedy’s tenure in the Senate was forty-seven, not forty-six, years and that the president’s assassination occurred the year after Edward Kennedy was elected. The rest of the correction was devoted to setting the record straight about articles and an obituary that ran in August following the senator’s death.

Then on Sunday the 10th another correction ran, this time at one hundred twenty-four words, correcting the correction. This one said the president was assassinated in 1963, the year after the senator was elected. And it said that the article had been correct in reporting that the Senate tenure was forty-six, not forty-seven years. The correction also said that the obituary and other articles had been correct and the correction was wrong.

Stay tuned. I have a feeling we haven’t heard the end of the correction that wouldn’t die.

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