Craig Silverman

Craig Silverman (craig@craigsilverman.ca) is an award-winning journalist and the founder of Regret the Error, a blog that reports on media errors and corrections, and trends regarding accuracy and verification. The blog moved to The Poynter Institute in December 2011, and he joined as Adjunct Faculty. He also serves as Director for Content for Spundge, a content curation and creation platform used by newsrooms and other organizations. Craig has been a columnist for the Toronto Star, Columbia Journalism Review, The Globe And Mail and BusinessJournalism.org. He’s the former managing editor of PBS MediaShift, and was part of the team that launched OpenFile.ca, a Canadian online news start-up. His journalism and books have been recognized by the Mirror Awards, National Press Club, Canadian National Magazine Awards, and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.


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The year in media errors and corrections 2014

Correction of the Year

This New York Times correction combines Kimye, butts and a writer treating a fake news website and a fake radio station as real. Bravo:

An earlier version of this column was published in error. That version included what purported to be an interview that Kanye West gave to a Chicago radio station in which he compared his own derrière to that of his wife, Kim Kardashian. Mr. West’s quotes were taken, without attribution, from the satirical website The Daily Currant. There is no radio station WGYN in Chicago; the interview was fictitious, and should not have been included in the column.

Runner Up

The Sun (U.K.) offered a correction that detailed just how ridiculous their original “reporting” was:

In an article ‘London Bridge IS Falling Down’ (16 June) we stated that the iconic bridge, now a tourist attraction in Arizona, was falling into disrepair and could soon be bulldozed.

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11 years later, Idi Amin’s son objects to Guardian obit for his father

Ugandan dictator Idi Amin died over a decade ago, in August of 2003. Like news organizations all over the world, The Guardian published an obituary that told the story of how Amin grew up, came to power and then led with a bloody, iron fist. (As noted in the obit, the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva estimated the death toll during his leadership to be at least 80,000 and likely closer to 300,000.)

Amin’s death and the obits that followed it are old news. But not for his son, Hussein Amin. He recently wrote to Chris Elliott, The Guardian’s readers’ editor, to object. “Allow me to raise my displeasure at a Guardian obituary about my father, Idi Amin,” he wrote.

Amin, it seems, intends to run for public office and wants to clear some things up about his dad. Elliott detailed the request and his response in a fascinating column. Read more

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New York Times column used quote from fake news site ‘without attribution’

A late entry for 2014′s Correction of the Year comes from The New York Times. It features an early version of a column published in error; a quote taken from ludicrous article in a fake news website that was treated as real and used without attribution; and a reference to a non-existent Chicago radio station with the call letters WGYN.

The offending article was the latest edition of Joyce Wadler’s humor column, “I Was Misinformed.” Here is what has been added (as an Editor’s Note):

An earlier version of this column was published in error. That version included what purported to be an interview that Kanye West gave to a Chicago radio station in which he compared his own derrière to that of his wife, Kim Kardashian. Mr. West’s quotes were taken, without attribution, from the satirical website The Daily Currant. There is no radio station WGYN in Chicago; the interview was fictitious, and should not have been included in the column.

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3 lessons in mobile, social and viral from Latin American newspapers

I recently spent two days at the beautiful offices of El Comercio, the largest and oldest newspaper in Peru. Grupo de Diarios América bought together journalists from newspapers all over Latin America for a seminar about social media. I was fortunate to be a speaker. But, mostly, I was lucky to spend a couple of days listening to journalists from news organizations I don’t read or follow. I want to share three things I heard that transcend any linguistic or regional concerns.

1. You are not in control of how people consume your content

Last year at this time, El Nuevo Día in Puerto Rico was getting 30 percent of its digital traffic from mobile devices, with the remaining 70 percent coming from the desktop. This year, according to deputy general director Benjamín Morales Melendez, those numbers have reversed. They get 70 percent of their traffic from mobile devices. Read more

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Toronto newsweekly falls short on Buffy The Vampire Slayer trivia

Toronto’s NOW magazine had to issue a correction due its lack of Buffy The Vampire Slayer knowledge:

This article originally stated that Joyce Summers, the mother of Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s titular character, succumbed to a cancerous tumour. As pointed out by Queen’s Park Briefing’s John Michael McGrath, Summers in fact died from an aneurysm [sic] that resulted from the tumour’s removal.

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Amazing name leads to amusing Huffington Post correction

A Huffington Post story about a woman with an awesome name (“Cherries Waffles Tennis”) and her brush with the law resulted in an amusing correction:

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Tennis was arrested for allegedly making “fraudulent purposes.” Clearly that is neither a crime nor a statement that makes any sense. She was arrested for allegedly making fraudulent purchases.

But that may not have been the original version of the correction. According to the Twitter account @_youhadonejob, the correction originally restated the mistaken text:

Fair warning: I didn’t see the original allegedly incorrect correction for myself on the HuffPost site.

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NYT corrects: Bald eagles’ poop isn’t purple

A New York Times correction delves into the nitty gritty of bald eagle and osprey poop:

An earlier version of this article described bald eagles and ospreys incorrectly. They eat fish, and their poop is white; they do not eat berries and excrete purple feces. (Other birds, like American robins, Eurasian starlings and cedar waxwings, do.)

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Let's Get Weird: A BuzzFeed Event sponsored by The CW

BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith: ‘We didn’t fully think through’ the removal of old posts

Several months ago, roughly half a dozen early BuzzFeed writers were told to go back through their pre-2012 work and decide what they wanted to save. Anything they didn’t want to keep or update should be removed from the site, they were told.

“Go through your stuff and save what you care about,” is how BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith summarizes the direction.

The result was that thousands of posts were removed from BuzzFeed, without any notice or disclosure. The removal of content was revealed by Gawker’s J.K. Trotter in two posts, the most recent of which outlined the previously unknown scale of the cull.

Smith was off in the woods on vacation when Trotter’s latest piece was published last week. This morning I spoke to him by phone, and he said BuzzFeed did not handle the purge of old content as well as it should have.

“I don’t suggest that this was masterpiece of a really well-thought-through process,” he said. Read more

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Bear attack foiled by Justin Bieber’s music: A story too good to check

Just after 12 pm on Tuesday, a story started picking up some serious online momentum.

In the span of about an hour, it appeared on the websites of The Week, Elite Daily, the Daily Mirror, the New York Post, Mediaite, an ABC affiliate, among others.

Here’s how the New York Post’s story began:

Even bears can’t stand Justin Bieber’s music.

A fisherman in Russia was being attacked by a brown bear and escaped death when his Justin Bieber ringtone went off and sent the beast fleeing into the forest.

Animals? Check. A strange and amazing turn of events? Check. Justin Bieber angle when he’s already in the news for a run-in with Orlando Bloom? Check.

Too good to check? Check.

But next thing you know, NPR’s “Morning Edition” covers it, and it ends up in a Seth Meyers monologue:

Here’s the issue: the first story of the bear attack was published in Russian language publication Pravda back on July 31 — and it says nothing about Justin Bieber. Read more

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The Wall Street Journal fails ‘Monsters of Greek Mythology 101′

Someone at the Wall Street Journal can’t tell a Minotaur from a Cyclopes. As a result, the paper published a monstrous correction this week:

The Minotaur is a monster in Greek mythology that is part bull, part human. A travel article in Saturday’s Off Duty section mistakenly called it a one-eyed monster.

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