You guys have all seen the media “apologies” and retractments, when they put a tiny little paragraph on B32 at the bottom that says, “I made a mistake when I said Anthony Weiner was a Republican. He’s a Democrat.” No one ever sees it and the headline becomes the meme.
This reporter made a mistake and apologized the way an honorable person apologizes.
(Reuters) – Readers, I apologize. The premise of my debut column for Reuters, on News Corp’s taxes, was wrong, 100 percent dead wrong.
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp did not get a $4.8 billion tax refund for the past four years, as I reported. Instead, it paid that much in cash for corporate income taxes for the years 2007 through 2010 while earning pre-tax profits of $10.4 billion.
For the first time in my 45-year-old career I am writing a skinback. That is what journalists call a retraction of the premise of a piece, as in peeling back your skin and feeling the pain. I will do all I can to make sure everyone who has read or heard secondary reports based on my column also learns the facts and would appreciate the help of readers in that cause.
No excuses. But I will explain how I made such a bonehead error.
I often write tart notes at the Romenesko blog for journalists, the Columbia Journalism Review, Nieman Reports and elsewhere about what I consider flawed reporting by others. I lecture to young reporters around the world on the duty of care they need to take with facts and teach how to check and cross check. Until now I have never made a big mistake, but this is a painful reminder that we all put our pants on one leg at a time. The measure of character, I say in my posts and lectures, is whether when an error is found you forthrightly and promptly correct.
So I hope readers will trust that while I made a whopper of a mistake, it has been corrected forthrightly and promptly.
I’m sure my politics and his politics are diametrically opposed, but I still respect him for confessing his mistake and making the correction prominent. Kudos. Now let’s see if the rest of the media can take a lesson from him.
h/t James Taranto and Best of the Web Today