Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Huffington, Times Tag-Team Mistake

2010 splits the defenders

News outlets love to break news so much that sometimes they bungle the story a little (and sometimes a lot). In the scramble to be the town crier on a big T.V. news story involving Jay Leno staying on at NBC in prime time after he leaves the Tonight show, at least two major news organizations made a small but critical mistake.

Shockingly, on its Web site, The New York Times printed a glaring (to sharp-eyed readers) error in its coverage of the Leno story. As you can see in the screen shot highlighted above, The Times’ article states, “Five years ago NBC announced that it would give the job of host of that franchise late-night show to Conan O'Brien in May 2010.”

Any follower of this story knows that Mr. O’Brien is taking over the Tonight show from the large-jawed host in May 2009 (not 2010) and so does The Times, because the paper has been closely following the story for around five years and the article’s writer basically wrote the book on late night television (a truly amazing story and good read). Therefore, it’s no surprise The Times quickly recognized and corrected the error, albeit without admitting to the gaffe.

But, lesser news organizations, most notably The Huffington Post, have made the mistake and, as of this writing, have yet to make the correction. It’s one thing for The Times to publish a typo or briefly get the years in question mixed up while breaking the story, but it’s quite another blunder for Huffington Post editors to reprint the story and not catch the error. And, The Huffington Post didn’t clearly credit the story to The Times. Huh, really?

Yep, look closely at the above screen shot. Huffington Post editors gave their own writer credit for the story and the mistake while vaguely noting that The Times "also reports the move," even though the majority of the text is copied verbatim from The Times. The Proofreader can’t help but wonder if Huffington Post editors read the story or just performed some slapdash copying and pasting to get the story online as quickly as possible. As is often the case, other media outlets have repeated the mistake, but many, if not most, have not. Hopefully, those that did will correct the mistake and notify readers of the original error.

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