Tag Archives: chief of staff

The NYT’s Cronkite mistakes and the paper’s ‘top 20’ error rate list

The New York Times’ public editor’s column (August 1) is quite extraordinary in the way it details the mistakes in New York Times’ coverage following Walter Cronkite’s death, a point Steven A. Smith makes here in a blog post.

Not least as it gives quite an insight into NYTimes’ newroom process, including reference to this list: ‘the top 20 among reporters and editors most responsible for corrections this year’.

“For all her skills as a critic, [Alessandra] Stanley was the cause of so many corrections in 2005 that she was assigned a single copy editor responsible for checking her facts. Her error rate dropped precipitously and stayed down after the editor was promoted and the arrangement was discontinued. Until the Cronkite errors, she was not even in the top 20 among reporters and editors most responsible for corrections this year. Now, she has jumped to No. 4 and will again get special editing attention.”

The Guardian (one of the two few UK newspapers to have its own ombudsman, or readers’ editor) picks up the corrections here on its MediaMonkey blog:  “If there is a record for the most number of corrections to a single newspaper article, then it may just have changed hands.”

We wonder what Walter Cronkite, renowned for his careful reporting, would have made of all this… Last month in a Q&A with users on WashingtonPost.com, his former chief of staff, Marlene Adler said:

“As a newspaper man and a TV reporter, speed and accuracy were what it was all about. Getting the facts, getting them right and getting the story out first, whenever possible. He didn’t like to be scooped by another network or print reporter. However, he would not release a story, even if it meant being second, if he could not authenticate his sources.”