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.


How CNBC got burned by a nonexistent ‘cyberattack’

Two weeks ago, CNBC aired a story and published a detailed article about what it called an “audacious,” “brazen,” sophisticated” and “unprecedented” cyberattack against a big hedge fund.

A company called BAE Systems Applied Intelligence said it had identified the attack, but declined to name the hedge fund involved. 

CNBC correspondent Eamon Javers wrote the lengthy look at the incident and also appeared on air in a more than two-minute segment.

Maybe you can guess what happened next: Yesterday, Javers wrote a follow-up article to note that BAE subsequently admitted that the attack on the hedge fund never really happened. It was part of a “scenario” the company had laid out. From the company statement given to Javers:

“From the extensive amount of cyber incidents we deal with, we occasionally produce anonymized illustrative scenarios to help inform industry and the media.

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Truth Goggles launches as an annotation tool for journalists

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When Dan Schultz first described Truth Goggles close to three years go, he deemed it a “magic button” that could tell you “what is true and what is false on the web site you are viewing.”

That concept – which Schultz refers to as the “fact-check the Internet approach” – attracted a decent amount of press and enthusiasm at the time. Schultz shipped some related code as a result of him developing the project while at the MIT Media Lab.

Today, nearly three years later, he’s released the first Truth Goggles product — and it’s a departure from that original vision.

The Truth Goggles launching today is a tool to enable anyone to annotate an existing piece of online content to raise and answer questions about what’s been reported/written.… Read more

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Ottawa Citizen apologizes to David Bowie for ‘Space Oddity’ accusation

In May, the Ottawa Citizen published an op-ed from a university professor that began with an accusatory opening line:  “David Bowie stole a piece of Canadian culture on Wednesday.”

It was dead wrong.

The piece claimed Bowie was personally responsible for having astronaut Chris Hadfield’s version of “Space Oddity” removed from YouTube. Professor Blayne Haggart wrote that “the world was only allowed to see the video because Bowie had granted Hadfield a one-year license to show it. On May 14, the license expired and Hadfield removed it from public view.”

Today, the paper apologized for the error. Turns out Bowie does not own the copyright for that song, and he in fact made efforts to try and get the owner to give the necessary permissions.… Read more

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LinkedIn acquires major fact checking patents

Lucas Myslinski was tired of having to fact check the questionable emails his father often forwarded to him.

“My dad would send these emails where they say something like, ‘Oh the government is stockpiling billions of dollars of ammunition’ and other things like that, where if all you would do is take a little time and look on Snopes you would find it’s not true,” Myslinski said.

That very problem has inspired projects such as LazyTruth, Truth Goggles, and Trooclick, all of which I wrote about last week, as well as the Washington Post’s TruthTeller. There’s a broad consensus that in a world of abundant, and often incorrect, information it would be valuable to have an app that “automatically monitors, processes, fact checks information and indicates a status of the information.”

Myslinski sketched out his ideas and then took the step of patenting them.… Read more

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BuzzFeed faceplants in hockey story, then makes an amusing correction

When the Los Angels Kings won the Stanley Cup at home, lots of significant others, officials, and other folks came down to the ice to celebrate. As reported by BuzzFeed and Uproxx, this resulted in a remarkable faceplant by one woman who unwisely wore high heels on the ice:

That slip up caused another: BuzzFeed’s post mistakenly said the Kings are based on Sacramento, rather than L.A. (Sacramento’s basketball team is called the Kings.) That resulted in this amusing correction:

This post originally identified the Kings as being from Sacramento, not Los Angeles. The author clearly cares much more about faceplants than sports. We regret the error.

It’s funny and it conforms to the recently implement BuzzFeed correction policy, which I previously wrote about.… Read more

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A new truth layer for the web

Over the years this idea has attracted entrepreneurs and technologists, and so far no one has been able to figure out a workable, widely-adopted product.

The problem to solve is obvious: With so much content being published online, it’s difficult for most people to determine the quality and credibility of a given webpage or other piece of content. How can you know if the article you’re reading has incorrect facts, is incomplete, or was produced by an organization with serious ethical issues? Isn’t there some way to compare all the articles and content on a given topic and surface the best, most accurate and complete version?

A team of 16 people in Paris are the latest to try and solve this problem. Their product is Trooclick, and it will launch an initial version this month.… Read more

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San Francisco Chronicle blog fails video game trivia, issues correction

The San Francisco Chronicle’s pop culture critic had to issue a correction after he misstated the revenge intentions of video game aliens:

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post suggested that a singular being named Yar was getting his revenge in the Atari 2600 game Yars’ Revenge. In fact, the Yarians were a race of aliens, and were collectively seeking revenge. The Big Event apologizes for the error.  (Thanks to TBE reader Marty for the e-mail pointing this out.)… Read more

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CNN serial plagiarist primarily lifted from her old employer, Reuters

Editors at CNN were performing a regular spot check of content in the organization’s publishing queue last week when they discovered that a story by London bureau news editor Marie-Louise Gumuchian included material taken without attribution from another source.

Using plagiarism detection software, they quickly turned up more examples and in the end have so far found that Gumuchian plagiarized in roughly 50 articles.

CNN leadership announced their findings and her firing in an Editor’s Note published today. Gumuchian was on the CNN world desk, and appears to have written frequently about the Middle East, among other topics.

“Most of what we found was [lifted] from Reuters, which she was previously employed by,” says a CNN source who asked not to be identified due to the fact that they were not cleared to speak publicly about the incident.… Read more

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Times public editor calls Joe Nocera column ‘intrinsically flawed,’ calls for more than a correction

New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan has weighed in on a dispute between two heavyweights. In one corner is high-profile Times columnist Joe Nocera. In the other, billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

In the end, she sides with Buffett, writing that a Nocera column about Buffett is “so intrinsically flawed, a standard correction didn’t get the job done.” She’s right, for the reasons she cites and for another that I’ll note below.

Sullivan’s post focused on a pair of columns (1,2) by Nocera about Buffett and recent decisions related to executive compensation at Coca-Cola, a company in which Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is the largest shareholder.

Sullivan notes that both of Nocera’s columns required corrections for factual errors. But even more than the mistakes, the major concern for her is that “The entire premise of the second column is built on a mistake: that Mr.… Read more

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New service will rate the authenticity of digital images

By the time an image makes its way online, it could have been opened and processed in any number of applications, passed through various hands, and been remixed and manipulated.

Today a new image hosting service, Izitru, is launching to give people new ways to certify the authenticity of a digital image. It’s also a tool that journalists can use to help verify images.

The Izitru website and iOS app can “distinguish an original JPEG file captured with a digital camera from subsequent derivations of that file that may have been changed in some way,” according to the company.

It mixes forensic image analysis with elements of crowdsourcing and human oversight. Izitru also has an API that will enable other services to integrate its technology.… Read more

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