I have from time to time advised the New York Times about a mistake in one of its stories. Mind you, I don’t fret about minor things. It’s major fact errors that I like corrected.
For example, the Times once said that the governor of New Mexico had balanced the state’s budget, one of the few states that could make that claim. Wrong! All states have constitutional or statutory mandates to have balanced budgets.
More recently the Times published a story about the Las Vegas Sun, a newspaper I know something about because it was started by the International Typographical Union in reaction to the Taft-Hartley Act and it was named the Free Press. I wrote an extensive academic article about the ITU’s publishing venture.
The Times’ story included this sentence: Hank Greenspun started the paper with his wife, Barbara, after working as a publicist for the gangster Bugsy Siegel.
I sent the Times a correction and included a copy of the paper I had written about the ITU. Nothing happened and I figured the correction people must be swamped with far more important corrections than mine.
And then I saw this correction:
Because of an editing error, a correction in this space on Thursday for an article about a slump in India’s housing market misspelled, in some copies, the surname of a former governor of the Reserve Bank of India who served from 1997 to 2003. He is Bimal Jalan, not Jaland.
A correction to a correction!
I posted something sarcastic on Facebook, noting that my corrections have been ignored over the years. However, one of my FB friends works at the Times and he directed me to a senior editor. I re-sent the correction and the documentation, figuring that I would see a real correction soonest.
Instead, I got this:
Thanks for your note about our story on The Las Vegas Sun. The writer did know that Hank Greenspun had purchased an existing paper and remade it into the Sun. Unfortunately, we had a long interesting story but a limited amount of space to tell it. Given that the crusading paper most people know as the Sun really came into being in 1950, we believed it was accurate to date its founding then.
As they like to say in the newsroom, never let the facts get in the way of a good story.