Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Why Did NYT Bury Its Salacious Berlusconi Correction? You Won't Find It In The Corrections Column.

If a correction falls in the forest, does it make a sound?

At some point in the last few days, the NYT quietly appended a correction to its Friday front-page story by Rachel Donadio about prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's sexual escapades with 40 under-age women at his villa in Sardinia.

Well, it turns out some of those women weren't under-age after all. Whoops! Forty did sound like an awful lot.

But instead of correcting its mistake in the NYT's prominent page-two corrections column, the NYT slipped the correction onto the end of the online version. That way, only readers of the actual story (those who made it all the way to the end, that is) would hear what went wrong:

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the number of girls younger than 18 who were allegedly invited to a villa by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy. Mr. Berlusconi is alleged to have invited about 40 women to the villa, but only some of them were allegedly younger than 18 at the time, not all of them.

Seems to us like a fix that warrants inclusion the the NYT's corrections column. The original piece did run on the front page.

The NYT's integrity guidelines clearly state the paper's policy on corrections:

Because our voice is loud and far-reaching, The Times recognizes an ethical responsibility to correct all its factual errors, large and small....If a correction is warranted, fairness demands that it be published immediately.

Maybe we're not reading the word "published" right. Do all corrections get published in the print edition? Or do corrections now only run in the paper at the NYT's discretion? We're just curious how that works.

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