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December 24, 2004

The Year In Crunks

Though we've only been publishing since October, that certainly won't stop us from joining the year-end pile on. While there was nothing of Blairian proportions to report in 2004, we did manage to catch few nasty mistakes, some downright hilarious corrections, and a few instances of journalistic fabrication. We therefore present to you our first annual Year In Crunks. Enjoy. See you back for new postings on January 3.

Correction of the Year

Perhaps the easiest pick of all for our round-up was this amazing correction from Kentucky's Lexington Herald-Leader. On the 40h anniversary of the passing of the Civil Rights Act this year, the paper published this amazing apology: "It has come to the editor's attention that the Herald-Leader neglected to cover the civil rights movement. We regret the omission." Simple, elegant, brave. Better late than never.

Headline Crunk of the Year
This is a tie and it goes to The Chicago Tribune and...The Chicago Tribune. Their first award-winning instance was using the word "cunt" in a headline. The second was for its "GLs" headline here:


Most Puzzling Behind-The-Scenes Look Thanks to a Correction
The Washington Post ran this correction, and let readers in on how things work for their "Gatherings" column:

"In the Oct. 17 Sunday Source, the 'Gatherings' story described a Republican barbecue held to watch a presidential debate. The item reported 'the possibly unprecedented occurrence of a young woman in a cowboy hat pretending to make out with a poster of Dick Cheney.' The item should have explained that the woman was asked to pose with the vice president's picture by the photographer working for The Washington Post. The woman also did not pretend to 'make out' with the picture; at the photographer's suggestion, she pretended to blow a kiss at it. The item should have explained that the party was hosted in response to a request from The Post, which discussed the decorations and recipes with the host and agreed to reimburse the cost of recipe ingredients."

Best Numerical Error
Anytime you send readers of your family newspaper to a phone sex line, it's pure Crunk gold. Thank you, Florida Times-Union for this:

A toll-free number to a non-partisan organization tracking the election turned out to be painfully wrong. Instead, the wrong number referred callers to a sex talk service. Of course, this never should have happened, since the newsroom's policy is that all phone numbers should be called before publication.

Best Hoax
Another tie for this award. The first recipient (or victim) is the Associated Press, which sent an Internet hoax regarding singer R. Kelley streaming into newsrooms and into a few editions:

An item in Saturday's People column incorrectly reported that R&B singer R. Kelly had been hit with a summons by the family of singer Ashanti, for allegedly making sexual advances toward her younger sister while backstage at a recent awards show.
''This is an Internet hoax and was never reported by The Associated Press,'' said Kristin Gazlay, AP deputy managing editor for national news. "It's all over the place.''
There is no truth to the item; no charges are pending.

But credit must also be given to Yes Men, a group of pranksters who fooled the BBC into believing one of them was a spokesman for Dow Chemical. The BBC ran this apology:

Earlier this morning, our news bulletin here (on Radio 2/4/5 Live) carried an extract from an interview with someone purporting to be from the Dow chemical company about the disaster twenty years ago at Bhopal in India.
It is now clear that the person did not, in fact, represent the Dow company and we want to make clear that the information he gave was entirely inaccurate.

Best Copy Editing Mistake
Congratulations, Christian Science Monitor:


Most Biased Attempt at Fiction
The US election provided us with much fodder, but this ridiculous attempt at satirical writing by one Fox News correspondent takes the cake for creative bias. As we reported back in October:

Carl Cameron, Fox's chief political correspondent, penned a pleasant little ditty (since removed from the Fox site) that used fake quotes to mock Kerry and his supposed penchant for manicures. The fake story quoted Kerry saying, "Didn't my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!" and "I'm a metrosexual -- he's a cowboy."
Fox issued this apology on their site: "The item was based on a reporter's partial script that had been written in jest and should not have been posted or broadcast. We regret the error, which occurred because of fatigue and bad judgment, not malice."

Best Sin of Omission
Big ups to the Dallas Morning News for this one:

"An Oct. 19 article on songwriter John Bucchino incorrectly stated that he doesn't read. The sentence should have said he doesn't read music."

Best Use of Correction as a Weapon
Editorial writer and columnist Patrick McGann of the Lewiston Morning Tribune in Idaho penned a column attacking a US House of Representatives candidate whose campaign ran a rather nasty ad. At the end of the column, he appended this notice:

An Oct. 1 editorial referred to Washington state Rep. Cathy McMorris, R-Colville as a "classy candidate." This page regrets the error. -- P.M.

Best Web-Related Error
A syndicated comic strip, Prickly City, ran a strip that included a URL that was unregistered at press time. But within a few hours, it had been registered and redirected to a bestiality site. It was later sent to a site supporting John Kerry. The correction:

In Tuesday's, Wednesday's and today's preprinted Tempo sections, the comic strip "Prickly City" contains a Web address, or URL, that links to a pornographic site. In a statement released Wednesday, the strip's provider, Universal Press Syndicate, explained that at the time the strip was filed, the address was "fictional and satirical" and led to an unregistered site. "Regrettably," the statement continued, "this site was registered midday on Oct. 19 following its appearance in the strip that morning. This URL now leads to an adult Web site." The syndicate added that it is "reviewing its policy of running fictional and unregistered URLs within its content." Tomorrow's strip has been corrected to eliminate the Web address.

Funniest Use of Corrections
The Stranger, Seattle's weekly paper, consistently runs the funniest corrections. Not because the mistakes are funny, but because they insist on using them as a means for self-flagellation. A few samples:

DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS: Last week, we misspelled Kim Chi Bistro in our Chow section ["Authentic Korean on the Hill," Jan 16]. We regret the error. Our food editor is dumb.

Stranger music editor Jennifer Maerz regrets drinking [blank] and [blanking] on her coffee table in heels at a Christmas party, fracturing her [blank] and making it very difficult to [blank] for four to six weeks.

DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS: In that same "Explain that Sore" article mentioned above, it was stated that a vaccine exists for Hepatitis C when, in fact, there isn't one. We regret the error, of course. Actually, we more than regret the error. We regret run-of-the-mill errors, but this error mortified us. The editor of The Stranger, Dan Savage, is a friggin' sex writer, after all. Why didn't he spot the error? Because he didn't READ THE PIECE! Can you believe it? Sean Nelson edited the Back to School Issue, and Savage figured he didn't even have to give it glance. God, what a dumb asshole.

Best Dereliction of Duty
Gillian Cosgrove, a now former society columnist with Canada's National Post, penned a fabricated ditty about the country's Governor General which resulted in her firing and this correction:

"In the first item in a column by Gillian Cosgrove in this paper on Monday, November 22, 2004, a number of fundamental errors and intentional misrepresentations appeared. The editors regret this and apologize to all concerned."

Best Ass Kissing Correction
Here's to you, Woman's Day magazine:

In the "Summertime" feature on page 114, we say that before you use the Schick Intuition razor you should lather on cream or gel. But the beauty of Intuition is its simplicity - no need for shave gel, soap, or body wash!  Intuition's All-in-One cartridge contains pivoting triple blades surrounded by a Skin Conditioning Solid(tm) that has a blend of sheer fruity notes of melon and fresh cucumber for normal to dry skin types. You can find the Schick Intuition Cucumber Melon at your local drug and grocery stores for $7.99.

Worst Misuse of the Press
Faithful readers will remember we ran a series of posts about a disturbing trend at election time -- candidates misattributing and misquoting newspapers for use in campaign materials. We're not so naive as to think this is anything radically new, but three instances were particularly troubling.

  1. The Journal Star endorsed Aaron Schock, a Repbulican candidate, in this editorial. But that didn't stop his opponent, Ricca Slone, from skewing the paper's words into her favor and then pasting the paper's logo and the cut-and-pasted words onto a flyer, which her team then set about distributing all over the district. More here.
  2. Curt Darius Williams was a candidate for the State Senate in Colorado's District 23. Included on the "major endorsements" page of his campaign site was this quote from the Rocky Mountain News: "We feel that Curt is an attractive candidate." The only problem was that the Rocky Mountain News didn't endorse Williams.  This upset the News and they let everyone know it in an editorial that included this passage: "...So we hereby take it back: Williams is not an attractive candidate. Clear enough this time?"
  3. The Winston-Salem Journal had to ask Richard Burr, a Republican Senate candidate, to correct a television campaign ad that it felt was misleading. The ad apparently showed the masthead of the newspaper with the words “extremely irresponsible” attributed to it in reference to Burr’s Democratic opponent, Erskine Bowles. The problem? Those words were spoken by a source in an article, and not by the paper. More here.

Want to see a round-up of our corrections? Go here and enjoy. Hey, mistakes happen.

Thanks for reading. See you in 2005.

December 24, 2004 at 08:00 AM | Permalink