Thursday, September 17, 2009

UPDATE: NYT Issues "Postscript" To Peter Applebome 9/11 Column, Noting Its Failure To Report Subject's Previous Arrest Record.

Last week, The NYTPicker reported on what struck us as a significant omission in Peter Applebome's apparent one-interview profile last Thursday of a 9/11 rescue worker who'd bought a firetruck to commemorate fallen firefighters.

We discovered, from a quick search of Google, that the worker -- Michael Bellone -- had been arrested in 2005 for impersonating a firefighter, and for stealing fire equipment from Ground Zero. Bellone had also been accused in press reports of having regularly misrepresented himself as a firefighter, and having falsely claimed to have found the black boxes from American Flight 11 at Ground Zero.

Today, the NYT acknowledged some of those omissions, in what they labeled a "Postscript" alongside the corrections column:

An Our Towns column last Thursday described Michael Bellone, a former nightclub bouncer who worked as a volunteer with firefighters and the police at ground zero in Lower Manhattan for months after Sept. 11, 2001. He helped recover the remains of victims and, as part of an effort to keep alive the memory, now has a fire truck that bears the names of all 343 members of the Fire Department who died that day.

The column omitted one pertinent element of Mr. Bellone’s relationship with the Fire Department. As other news organizations reported at the time, he was briefly arrested in 2005 and accused of misrepresenting himself and using official equipment illegally as part of presentations on the disaster to school children and others. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office decided on the day of his arrest not to prosecute him, and the equipment was returned to the Fire Department.

Since then Mr. Bellone has continued his efforts, and retains the support of many who have worked with him.

We're pleased to see the NYT promptly address the omission from the work of a talented columnist whose work typically doesn't need correction or amplification.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When are you guys going to do a postscript on the Times's "expose" of NYTPicker? Waiting.