In most cases, the internet is a pretty spiffy place to hang out. But sometimes in the switch from print to digital, certain aspects of our quality of life – of our collective culture, I’d even say – are lost. Newspaper corrections are some of the more entertaining aspects of print journalism to have fallen out of view as online readership has soared, and with that evolution a little bit of the fun disappeared…
Elena and I are on week three of “The Weekender”, which is a three times weekly subscription to the New York Times. The paper arrives in our foyer on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings, and–because we are the only people in the 10 unit building we live in to get the paper delivered–there’s never any confusion as to which one is ours.
Although I always grew up with the newspaper around, this has been my first experience as an actual paying newspaper subscriber, and I’m really enjoying it! The ritual of grabbing it on the way to the subway on Friday mornings has been particularly joyful. After reading what interests me on the front page, I quickly jump to page two and read one of my favorite sections: the “Corrections”.
There’s something really captivating about these short paragraphs. (There were 10 of them this morning: a really high number methinks!) The writing is so calculated, and thorough, and the corrections themselves are usually fairly entertaining. Aside from correcting errors from previous papers, they also serve as a sort of apology to the (hopefully) small handful of people likely offended by the indiscretion. And it almost goes without saying that corrections provide good reading and the occasional laugh.
There were no grammatical errors to correct in this morning’s paper. Nearly all of them were minor legal or statistical changes, or name misspellings. And in a few cases, the Times had simply gotten people confused, an error that I’d hope a professional fact-checker or copy-editor would have caught before printing.
Take this gem of a correction, for example:
A picture caption on Wednesday with an article about the latest tradition at Yankee Stadium – throwing something resembling a cream pie in the face of the player responsible for a walk-off win – misidentified one of the Yankees shown getting creamed. He is Juan Miranda, not Jonathan Albaladejo. (Mr. Albaladejo is the player laughing behind Mr. Miranda.)
A few takeaways from this example:
1) It’s hysterical! Just the phrase “misidentified one of the Yankees shown getting creamed” is worth repeating.
2) The description is truly meticulous. The correction writer sets the scene, describes the reason for the creaming, briefly notes that it is a relatively new phenomenon among Yankee post-game celebrations, and even makes sure to point out that the projectile in question was not a genuine pie and was instead “something resembling a cream pie”.
3) The misstated name is, by itself, memorable: 18 letters in all and the last 10 of them spell Albaladejo.
Miranda, Albaladejo, and the "pie" in question. I can understand not being able to verify Miranda's face, as its covered in "pie" and as his jersey number is not visible, but Albaladejo is clearly standing right behind him. Come on now, factcheckers! Earn your keep!
In this other example, you wonder who actually called (or e-mailed) the Times to complain:
An article on Monday about Brandon Jennings’s season thus far as an N.B.A. Rookie with the Milwaukee Bucks referred incorrectly to a Ferrari driven by one of his teammates. It belonged to Bucks guard Michael Redd; it was not center Andrew Bogut’s car.
1) I love the semi-colon usage; it was perfectly suited to describe the situation.
2) I do have to partially retract my previous statement about the meticulousness of the Times’ corrections writers. The Bucks season starts this evening, four days after this piece appeared. Therefore to refer to the article as being about his season thus far was incorrect, insofar as the season hadn’t started yet.
3) Most important was the next thought that jumped in my head. Who called this in? The car itself was not pictured in the article, and it certainly wasn’t newsworthy on its own. Was Michael Redd making sure that people who read the New York Times were aware of his Ferrari ownership? Was Andrew Bogut hoping he wouldn’t be seen as the type of player who would drive something so decadent to practice in St. Francis, Wisconsin? Was it an incredibly nerdy Bucks fan who was actually aware of which cars in the practice facility parking lot belonged to certain players? (By the way, it turns out it was a little of Column B and a little of Column C.)
See what I mean now? These were just two of the ten corrections in today’s paper, and if I’d read it online, I wouldn’t have had the pleasure. In their defense, when the New York Times makes corrections to articles on its website, a note is inserted at the end of the article containing the same correction text as in the print edition. But, as a result, the corrections are hidden. Scattered about the site, in random articles, and always at the bottom of the page, corrections can no longer be sought out and enjoyed as they are in the print edition…
…or can they?
Sweet Jesus, yes they can! (I litereally just discovered that now, hidden in a tiny little link all the way at the bottom of the main page.) There are even links to the actual articles. Bring it on, internet! Rant rescinded.