Articles about "Misidentifications"


This BBC photo shows Neda Soltani on the left; Neda Agha-Soltan, on the right, died during protests in 2009.

Being the ‘other Neda’ destroyed a woman’s life

BBC
After Neda Agha-Soltan’s 2009 death during protests in Iran, an Iranian English-literature professor named Zahra “Neda” Soltani had the surreal experience of seeing her picture reproduced in news reports and in protests around the world, and her name used interchangeably with Agha-Soltan’s. The photo came from her Facebook page, Soltani writes in a first-person account, and writing to news organizations that contacted her didn’t stop the wrong information from spreading.

This BBC photo shows Neda Soltani on the left; Neda Agha-Soltan, on the right, died during protests in 2009.
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South Dakota’s Aberdeen American News mixes up a man accused of sexual exploitation and his lawyer:

Wrong name: Samuel A. Seeley, 21, was arrested at an Aberdeen home in January and charged with sexual exploitation of a minor and solicitation of a minor. A court story in Wednesday’s American News referenced the wrong person as having been arrested. Tom Cogley was Seeley’s attorney and was not arrested.

Aberdeen American News

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Name gaffe causes Toronto Star to accuse wrong person of plagiarism

Two weeks ago I decided I’d seen enough same name/wrong photo mistakes in the press to publish a post offering five tips that would help publications avoid this error.

I was moved to write it after seeing a spate corrections in The Independent and the Daily Mirror. Then, not long after the post was published, it happened again, this time at the MetroWest Daily News of Framingham, Mass.

In each case, the papers published a photo of a person who happened to share the same name as a protagonist in their respective stories. The worst offense by far was made by the MetroWest Daily News, which ran a photo of the wrong Angel Ortiz in a report about him being indicted on charges that included raping a child. The unindicted Mr. Ortiz subsequently decided to sue the paper.

I looked at the trend in my weekly column for the Toronto Star, which is filed on Thursday morning and appears in the Saturday paper. That’s worth highlighting because Star public editor Kathy English decided to write about the very same issue for her weekly column, which went online Friday.

The notable difference was she focused solely on yet another same name/wrong person error — one that the paper had recently committed. I wasn’t aware of the Star’s mistake when I wrote my column, otherwise I would have included it in my look at the issue.

Here’s English explaining the error:

This week, the Star reported the story of a Ryerson University professor whose work was plagiarized by two academics based in Iran. This academic plagiarism was confirmed by the editorial board of the Journal of Electronic Waves and Applications, which published the plagiarized work.

Unfortunately, an error in the Star’s reporting of the name of the Iranian university of one of the confirmed plagiarists caused considerable distress for not one — but two — other Iranian professors at the university the Star mistakenly named. These two professors have the same name as one of the Iranian academics who submitted an exact copy of a paper written by Ryerson computer engineering professor Xavier Fernando in 2004.

Three Iranian professors with the same name and two of them work at the same university? Yeah, you could say that’s a rather unlucky occurrence, though — as English notes — the name in question (Mehdi Dehghan) is quite common in Iran.

Here’s an apology published by the paper on February 14:

A Feb. 14 article about a Ryerson University professor whose work was plagiarized by two Iranian academics stated that one of them was Mehdi Dehghan and incorrectly stated that he is a professor at Amirkabir University of Technology in Iran. In fact, one of the authors who plagiarized the article in the Journal of Electromagnetic Waves and Applications is Mehdi Dehghan, who is affiliated with the department of electrical engineering at another Iranian university, the Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch in Tehran.

There are in fact two professors named Mehdi Dehghan at Amirkabir University of Technology (AUT) in Iran. Neither of them had any involvement in plagiarizing the Ryerson professor’s work. The Star apologizes to Mehdi Dehghan, an associate professor in the computer engineering and information technology department, (AUT) and Mehdi Dehghan, head of mathematics and computer science department, (AUT) for this error.

English’s column offers an account of how the mistake occurred. Here’s the reporter, Anita Li, explaining things:

“To fact-check, I googled the professors’ names. When googling “Mehdi Dehghan,” the first entry was Mehdi Dehghan of the Amirkabir University of Technology,” Li said.

Li made the incorrect assumption that this Iranian academic was the same Mehdi Dehghan who had plagiarized Fernando’s article. She thus wrote that Mehdi Dehghan was based at Amirkabir University, exposing both of that institution’s same-named profs to questions from academics around the world about whether one of them had plagiarized.

… had she more carefully checked the copy of the plagiarized paper that Fernando had also sent her, she would have seen that it clearly stated the plagiarist named Mehdi Dehghan was with the Islamic Azad University, not Amirkabir University.

The column also notes that an article Li was sent as background also included the incorrect university affiliation. She was right to double check that information by using Google, but her attempt ended in error because she didn’t drill down deep enough. Nor did she check the plagiarized paper, a primary source, for verification.

English’s column emphasizes the shared element of responsibility, which I like especially because Li is an intern who should be given proper guidance and supervision.

“I don’t think Li bears sole responsibility here,” English wrote. “She received little oversight from her editors, no questioning at all about how she knew the identities and universities of the two academics who had plagiarized.”

Errors are often a shared responsibility — and fault — whether an intern is involved or not. This is yet another reminder that teamwork and communication are wonderful tools for prevention, and asking colleagues for help and a second read is always a good thing. Read more

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A lot of love in this Talking Points Memo correction:

“Correction: This article originally misidentified the milk carton’s partner as an egg. It is, in fact, a chocolate chip cookie, as a reader pointed out. We have since corrected the error in copy and regret it.”

(Thanks for the tip, @hriefs.)

Talking Points Memo

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Attorney Scott Tenley was misidentified as Emanuel Goffer in a photo caption accompanying the continuation of an article on the government’s broad insider-trading investigation in Wednesday’s Money & Investing section. The person who was supposed to be pictured, Mr. Goffer, is a figure who was convicted in the case. Mr. Tenley is a lawyer for another figure in the case and his photo appeared in error.

A correction in the Wall Street Journal

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An archive photo showed a famous woman — aproned, holding a saucepan and contemplating several wine glasses — in a galley kitchen (Ironing lady, 30 December, page 10). Our caption read: “Margaret Thatcher, as PM, attends to domestic concerns at 10 Downing Street.” In fact, notes a reader, “the photo shows almost the opposite: it’s a publicity still from a BBC TV series called ‘Take Nobody’s Word For It. ‘ ” The reader, who worked on this 1987 series, goes on: “Mrs Thatcher is appearing as a ‘guest scientist’ doing kitchen chemistry experiments; she’s explaining that red cabbage can be used as an indicator for acid and alkali, and she’s about to pour the red cabbage water from the saucepan . . . into the wine glasses with acid, alkali and neutral liquids in them, to show the colour changes.”

A correction in The Guardian

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WSJ mistakenly puts foot (doctor) in mouth

Bravo to former Mitt Romney press secretary Kevin Madden for the RT of this correction from Journal economics editor David Wessel:

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