August 06, 2007

The Gray Lady discovers the Search box

The online Corrections: For the Record page at the New York Times is getting to be more and more fun. Today's entries are not as informative as last week's note about -30-, but they have a certain geekish charm, as the Gray Lady learns to seach her own archives:

An article in some copies on Wednesday about Congressional efforts to pass legislation to expand the government’s electronic wiretapping powers misspelled — yet again — the surname of the attorney general of the United States, in three of four references. He is Alberto R. Gonzales, not Gonzalez. (The Times has misspelled Mr. Gonzales’s name in at least 14 articles dating to 2001 when he became White House counsel. This year alone Mr. Gonzales’s name has been misspelled in February and March, and in two articles in April.)

Mr. Gonzales loses the errata-count race to Mr. Willkie:

An article on the Street Scene page in Business Day on Friday, about the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore’s entry into bankruptcy law practice, misspelled the name of another law firm that recently lost a bankruptcy specialist. It is Willkie Farr & Gallagher, not Wilkie. (The Times has misspelled the firm’s name in at least 50 articles since 1958. The “Willkie” comes from Wendell L. Willkie, who joined the firm shortly after losing the 1940 presidential election to Franklin D. Roosevelt and remained there until his death in October 1944.)

And both are battered by the misspelled-name champion ("so far", as Homer would add), Mr. Neiman:

An obituary on July 21 of Shirley Slesinger Lasswell, who marketed memorabilia and toys based on A. A. Milne’s children’s books about Winnie the Pooh, misspelled the name of the department store that agreed to let her set up Pooh Corners for children. It is Neiman Marcus, not Nieman Marcus. (The Times has misspelled the company’s name in at least 195 articles since 1930.)

Seriously, the NYT seems to take corrections much more seriously than most other news organizations do. The BBC's efforts, for example, are almost non-existent in comparison.

[Hat tip to Jonathan Falk]

[Update -- fev from HeadsUp: The Blog writes:

Enjoyed your note on corrections today. If you haven't yet, check out the collection the NYT published a few years back, "Kill Duck Before Serving." (One of the authors appears to be the guy who replaced Bob Byrne as chess columnist; go figure.) Good rundown as of a few years ago on the misspelled-name leaderboard. And gems of this nature:

Because of a transcription error, an article about Senator Alfonse M. D'Amato's remarks about Judge Lance A. Ito misquoted the Senator at one point. In his conversation with the radio host Don Imus, he said: "I mean, this is a disgrace. Judge Ito will be well-known." He did not say, "Judge Ito with the wet nose."

I think the Grauniad has a similar book out too, but I haven't read it. Alas.

Enjoyed the "wisdom vs. ignorance" too, by the way. We're still working on the science thing.

Ben Zimmer discussed Kill Duck Before Serving a couple of years ago ("Needling The Times, 10/31/2005). Amazon's Search function turns up some other gems:

March 11, 1975. In yesterday's issue, The New York Times did not report on riots in Milan and the subsequent murder of the lay religious reformer Erlembald. These events took place in 1075, the year given in the dateline under the nameplate on Page 1. The Times regrets both incidents.

November 2, 1968. The New York Times apologizes for imputing the use of the expression "Communist faggots" to Alexander Sacks, Republican-Conservative candidate for Congress in the 23rd Congressional District. [...]
The original copy clearly contained the expression "Communist fronts." Through an error that occurred in the composing room the word "faggots" was used instead of "fronts."

September 17, 1995. A quotation by the late civil rights lawyer William M. Kunstler was rendered incorrectly in some copies. He wrote, "The Kennedy's real immorality has to do with their lack of ethics as politicial leaders rather than their sexual exploits; he did not say "immortality."


Posted by Mark Liberman at August 6, 2007 09:51 AM