Saturday, September 5, 2009


Yesterday I stumbled upon the corrections page at The Globe's web site,, which is called "For the record," where there were two items. First, a clarification concerning a radio program that airs on WBUR, where the producer and distributor were straightened out. That's fine, but in the correction note itself the program's name was wrong. It's not "The American Life," but "This American Life." Now, it's not a big deal, but making a mistake in "For the record" seems to indicate some lack of thoroughness.

The second note is where I did a double-take.
Correction: Because of an editing error, a story in yesterday’s Metro section about Curt Schilling’s possible run for Senate incorrectly referred to former senator Edward W. Brooke III as being dead. Because of a reporting error, his surname was also misspelled.
Wo! In the same story the city's paper of record not only spelled the name wrong of a distinguished former senator, but also put the man in the past tense. Both errors, as well as those in the first correction, could have been easily avoided by a few seconds spent on the Internet. Say what you will about Wikipedia, but I refer to it all the time to confirm facts.

Now, as a sports reporter and editor in Maine I was constantly checking the spelling of names -- generally of high school athletes who were not famous and therefore not in Wikipedia. It took time and effort, and I did make errors, but few. As for killing people before their time, I once wrote a story on a 1920s girls basketball team and indicated that all the players had passed on. The day after publication I got a phone call from a niece of one of the players and the woman was still alive. Later, I spoke with her and apologized.

So yes, mistakes do happen. However, when we are talking about a big-city daily and when we are talking about well-known people or companies or institutions, there is no excuse -- unless, of course, the budget has been slashed and time is tight and unpaid interns are looking things up. That may be the case at the Globe, and if so, is another indication that traditional journalism is in a death spiral.

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