A couple of weeks ago, the NY Times ran this correction regarding an Op-Ed piece that had run in the paper:
The Op-Ed page in some copies yesterday carried an incorrect version of an article about military recruitment. The writer, an Army reserve officer, did not say, 'Imagine my surprise the other day when I received orders to report to Fort Campbell, Ky., next Sunday,' nor did he characterize his recent call-up to active duty as the precursor to a 'surprise tour of Iraq.' That language was added by an editor and was to have been removed before the article was published. Because of a production error, it was not. The Times regrets the error.This is what they call an "incorrect version"? An article that has quotes fabricated out of whole cloth by an editor? Well, apparently, the Times realized how badly this rather terse correction reflected on them from the letters of outrage that poured in, and decided to print a further clarification of how the error occured in Sunday's Times. Except that I don't think it makes them look better at all. From the article:
Captain Carter's message led The Times that same afternoon to propose the textual changes that alluded to the surprise of his call to active duty, the officer said. "Within 10 minutes" after receiving the changes, he recalled, "I said, 'No way.' Those were not words I would have said. It left the impression that I was conscripted." His call-up was "not a surprise," he told me, because he had actually "volunteered" for mobilization. (It's not clear when the editors first learned that he had volunteered for active duty.)The article then goes on to explain how the version of the article that included the quotes that were rejected by Captain Carter was inadvertently sent to press. That part I can understand. A production error is a production error. (If you buy that's what happened.) What I simply cannot believe is the continued push by the editors throughout the editorial process to include misleading quotes in the article after the author flatly rejected them as untrue. I'm not sure that this follow-up article makes the Times' editorial staff look better at all. The only part of the article that I can actually agree with is the last line:
An e-mail response from his editor later in the day continued to press for mentioning the call to active duty. "O.K.," it said, according to Captain Carter, "but we need the personal reference. Not only does it make the piece stronger, we otherwise would not be forthcoming with the readers."
...the doubts about the paper's credibility stirred up by this incident won't be easily erased.