We Regret The Error
November 25, 2019 7:40 PM   Subscribe

In honor of this great GQ correction, what are some of your favorite newspaper/magazine/website corrections of all-time? A twitter thread [ThreadReader link] from @ParkerMolloy about correction reasons given by various publication about various errors they made. The comments also keep on giving.

The originating tweet image text: NOTE: This story has been updated. Alexander Vindman received a Purple Heart after being wounded by an IED, or improvised explosive device, not an IUD, or intrauterine device. We regret the error.
posted by hippybear (45 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
 
Good to see they have the Financial Times’ clarification of the nature of jazz coverage in the Salt Lake Tribune.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:50 PM on November 25, 2019 [7 favorites]


Alderaan places? Really?
posted by lhauser at 7:58 PM on November 25, 2019 [3 favorites]


"Thank you for your cervix."
posted by pompomtom at 8:02 PM on November 25, 2019 [46 favorites]


Editor’s Note: This version corrects the original editorial which implied that physicist Stephen Hawking, a professor at the University of Cambridge, did not live in the UK.

Not so much funny, but wow what a doozy.
posted by ODiV at 8:05 PM on November 25, 2019 [12 favorites]


Several errors due to word-replacing browser extensions. What a world we live in!
posted by acidnova at 8:14 PM on November 25, 2019 [8 favorites]


1. This was funny, thanks for a good post.

2. People who are injured by IUDs should legit get purple hearts.
posted by medusa at 8:15 PM on November 25, 2019 [9 favorites]


I can't find it online, but a newspaper correction I remember was something like:
Pluto is Donald Duck's dog, not Goofy, who can speak. We regret any inconvenience this might have caused.
posted by cccorlew at 8:17 PM on November 25, 2019 [7 favorites]


I would watch a movie co-starring Melen Mirrin and Helen Melen.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:23 PM on November 25, 2019 [14 favorites]


Metafilter: It had to do with Celsius temperatures.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:23 PM on November 25, 2019 [3 favorites]


Also: Came for the obligatory barely relevant Holy Grail opening-credits reference, left satisfied.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:35 PM on November 25, 2019 [2 favorites]


Those were pretty funny. Except the initial one had me cringing rather than chuckling. It was certainly not Purple Heart-worthy, but the owie that my then wife's new IUD induced was no laughing matter at the time, at least for me. Just a...um...pinprick, but I coulda been traumatized. An OB-GYN visit and the string being trimmed or adjusted or something prevented a reoccurrence, but gotta admit I was a bit hesitant for a while after.
posted by ClingClang at 9:01 PM on November 25, 2019 [2 favorites]


This isn't a correction, but it's very good: https://twitter.com/dalykyle/status/1174360934237855749
posted by Condroidulations! at 9:14 PM on November 25, 2019 [22 favorites]


Pluto is Donald Duck's dog, not Goofy, who can speak. We regret any inconvenience this might have caused.

Pluto is Mickey's dog. Which leads one to the rather problematic situation of decade whether Goofy is a dog or not. And if he's not, then what is he?

Donald's pet is Boo-Boo Chicken.

Edited to remove joke.
posted by hippybear at 9:26 PM on November 25, 2019 [2 favorites]


As a former newspaper editor, I can chuckle about these because not one is my fault. Errors for which I was in any way responsible are not in the least amusing.
posted by bryon at 9:46 PM on November 25, 2019 [11 favorites]






I'm not going to try and dig it up for the exact wording, but back during the first Gulf War one of the big papers issued a correction that read roughly:

"Newt Gingrich did not call Democrats who oppose the war resolution cowardly traitors, as we reported. He was referring to all Democrats."
posted by mark k at 11:17 PM on November 25, 2019 [17 favorites]


Pluto is Mickey's dog. Which leads one to the rather problematic situation of decade whether Goofy is a dog or not. And if he's not, then what is he?

Let us hearken back
posted by rhizome at 11:18 PM on November 25, 2019


It's between the "sitting shiva" one and the PE 911 one.
posted by bongo_x at 11:55 PM on November 25, 2019


I've long treasured this item from an unidentified American newspaper: "Instead of being arrested, as we stated, for kicking his wife down a flight of stairs and hurling a lighted kerosene lamp after her, the Reverend James P. Wellman died unmarried four years ago."

Then there's, well, this. It appeared in the Post-Journal of Jamestown, NY, which later corrected it without quoting the original headline.
posted by Paul Slade at 12:07 AM on November 26, 2019 [10 favorites]


I was hoping to find the clarification between “thirty sows and pigs” and “thirty thousand pigs” and rejoiced when I did so.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:33 AM on November 26, 2019 [6 favorites]


The indy has a dozen here. First one: "Boyd Thomas...does not believe President Obama is the Antichrist, who will come after seven kings according to Revelation. He thinks Obama could be the seventh king."

I like the classic: We reported that Mr and Mrs X will be living with the bride's father. They will in fact be living at the Old Manse.
posted by biffa at 4:00 AM on November 26, 2019 [8 favorites]


An April 5 story stated that Mary Fraijo did not return a reporter's calls seeking comment. Fraijo died last December.
Did that really need a correction? The original was and is 100% correct, after all…
posted by Ampersand692 at 5:39 AM on November 26, 2019 [5 favorites]


I love that people have saved some of these for years... I still have clippings of a couple of obituaries and a book review that cracked me up, but it never occurred to me to save corrections. My brain is telling me I'm harboring a couple of ones that I noticed and loved, but damned if I can actually remember them (or even enough to google).

Conroidulations, that is hysterical
posted by Mchelly at 6:49 AM on November 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


Was waiting for "us-and-them thing"/"S&M thing." That one actually made it into Gilmore Girls, ostensibly as something that happened at the Yale Daily News.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:25 AM on November 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


This is considered by many to be the greatest newspaper correction of all time, so I'm a bit surprised nobody has posted it yet. This was published on July 17, 1969, as Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins were en route to the moon:
JULY 17, 1969: On Jan. 13, 1920, Topics of The Times, an editorial-page feature of The New York Times, dismissed the notion that a rocket could function in a vacuum and commented on the ideas of Robert H. Goddard, the rocket pioneer, as follows.

"That Professor Goddard, with his 'chair' in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution, does not know the relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react -- to say that would be absurd. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools."

Further investigation and experimentation have confirmed the findings of Isaac Newton in the 17th century and it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error.
posted by crazy_yeti at 7:59 AM on November 26, 2019 [25 favorites]


Several errors due to word-replacing browser extensions. What a world we live in!


A world in which people think human editing is a waste of time and money. (We regret the error.)
posted by scratch at 9:00 AM on November 26, 2019 [9 favorites]


One of the freelancers at our German newspaper once submitted an article about a start up entrepreneur who had to quit his cushy office job in order to start the company. He left "not unwillingly" ("nicht ganz unfreiwillig"), she wrote.
The double negative proved too much for the editor/proofreader/whoever who amended it to "nicht ganz freiwillig" ("not exactly of his own accord").

I don't know if we ever posted a retraction. I just remember the yelling match in the newsroom. I still think of it as the worst error ever, because the poor dude was in the middle of negotiating for funding and here was an article by a reputable paper insinuating he'd actually been fired from his last job.
posted by Omnomnom at 11:45 AM on November 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


The correction was unremarkable but a while back a Guardian column included this purported quote from 1984:
“Facts matter more than anything,” insisted Winston. “Facts are worth more than all the tea in China. Why, l’d rather have some facts than than a house made of solid gold.”

Big Brother smirked. “Facts are whatever I say they are. For example: trains are small. Really small. You could fit a train in the palm of your hand.”

“That’s not true,” sputtered Winston. “I was on a train just yesterday. It was the biggest damned thing I‘d ever seen.”

“No!” boomed Big Brother. “It was small! Welcome to Tiny Train World, Winston. Enjoy not being able to catch a train anymore on account of they’re too small, you idiot!”
posted by the duck by the oboe at 11:48 AM on November 26, 2019 [7 favorites]


> Did that really need a correction? The original was and is 100% correct, after all…

It may be factually correct but was still erroneous by implying she refused to return calls by her own volition rather than failed to return calls because she was unable to.
posted by ardgedee at 11:55 AM on November 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


It may be factually correct but was still erroneous by implying she refused to return calls by her own volition rather than failed to return calls because she was unable to.

Did it though? I mean, imagine a scenario in which Rudy Giuliani does not return a reporter's calls for comment due to worry that he'll self incriminate by doing so (a reasonable concern that would not actually occur to the real Rudy). The reporter writes that Giuliani did not return a call for comment. Contrast scenario B in which Rudy Giuliani is dead due to a stress-induced heart attack. The reporter places a call for comment and receives no response. They write that Giuliani did not return a call for comment. Now a third scenario in which Rudy is too stupid to use a phone except via butt-dial, and due to not having the reporter's number in his contacts list, cannot return the call. Again, the reporter writes the same thing.

Now, from the reporter's point of view the three scenarios look the same. Certainly the reporter can't be faulted for writing what actually happened regardless of the circumstances surrounding it, and should a reader draw any inference about Rudy's phone dialing capabilities versus alive-or-dead status that is entirely on them.
posted by axiom at 12:59 PM on November 26, 2019


I can't stop laughing about Mr. Fnu Lnu.

I'm laughing again.

Still laughing.
posted by Carmody'sPrize at 1:11 PM on November 26, 2019


Meanwhile, in the real world, "did not return calls" is understood by all and sundry to mean "hiding from media, v. suspicious."
posted by Omnomnom at 1:11 PM on November 26, 2019 [4 favorites]


Or it could be understood to mean "She doesn't want to talk to a reporter about the murder of her six year old granddaughter, eight years ago, so maybe don't call repeatedly."
posted by ODiV at 1:17 PM on November 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


That reminds me of an Infographic made after the shooting in Charleston showing state congress support for (gun control? Removing the confederate flag?) and showing Clementa Pinckney had not yet responded. At the time, there was no clarification he had been murdered in the shooting.

(No links, because I’m on mobile. Sorry!)
posted by politikitty at 1:22 PM on November 26, 2019


It is, however, widely understood to imply volition and therefore it seems disingenuous to argue that it is merely a neutral description of phone calls not occurring, no correction required.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:24 PM on November 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yes, true. That came off oddly hostile against you and I didn't intend that, Omnomnom. I just had read the original story and was feeling less jokey about it all of a sudden (imagine that!).
posted by ODiV at 1:32 PM on November 26, 2019


No worries!
posted by Omnomnom at 1:33 PM on November 26, 2019


Oh boy. I just read the "Pimpin4Paradise768" correction during a very boring meeting and am now biting my cheek SO HARD.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 1:42 PM on November 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


> It may be factually correct but was still erroneous by implying she refused to return calls by her own volition rather than failed to return calls because she was unable to.
> Did it though?

Yes. The correction isn't made to punish the reporter, it's to inform the reader. The phrasing was inappropriate even if the reporter (and the copydesk, if they still have one) was in no position to know at the time that the person had died. Mistakes happen and can be forgiven, and the opportunity for a correction should be taken when it's available.
posted by ardgedee at 2:23 PM on November 26, 2019 [4 favorites]


Next time I'll remember to add a /s or a ;) or something…
posted by Ampersand692 at 3:45 PM on November 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


On the flip side of “correction: they’re more dead than previously thought,” there’s always “correction: less dead...for now, anyway.”
posted by armeowda at 6:25 PM on November 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


I can't find it, but there was once a correction in the New Yorker that was something like:

His father's name was James, not Frank. He did not attend Smith Elementary School; he was homeschooled until age 13. He did not begin boxing at the Jones Gym at age 13. He began at the Wise Gym at age 12.

...and continued like this for several paragraphs until you wondered if the reporter had gotten anything at all right in the original profile of the boxer.
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 6:29 AM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


Good bye ChineseNippleClamps, hello Pimpin4Paradise768 as my go-to inappropriate for professional use email address.
posted by Mitheral at 9:26 PM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


Saved this to read during a CLE seminar. Had to stop. Now my ribs ache. Better than sit-ups.
posted by MorgansAmoebas at 1:56 PM on December 3, 2019


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