Regret the Error: How Media Mistakes Pollute the Press and Imperil Free Speech

Overview

Winner of the National Press Club’s Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism!

From Craig Silverman, proprietor of www.RegretTheError.com, comes a lively journey through the history of media mistakes via a chronicle of funny, shocking, and often disturbing journalistic slip-ups. The errors—running the gamut from hilarious to tragic—include “Fuzzy Numbers” (when numbers and math undermine reporting) “Obiticide” (printing the obituary of a living person), and “Unintended ...

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Regret the Error: How Media Mistakes Pollute the Press and Imperil Free Speech

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Overview

Winner of the National Press Club’s Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism!

From Craig Silverman, proprietor of www.RegretTheError.com, comes a lively journey through the history of media mistakes via a chronicle of funny, shocking, and often disturbing journalistic slip-ups. The errors—running the gamut from hilarious to tragic—include “Fuzzy Numbers” (when numbers and math undermine reporting) “Obiticide” (printing the obituary of a living person), and “Unintended Consequences” (typos and misidentifications that create a new, incorrect reality). While some of the errors are laugh-out-loud funny, the book also offers a serious investigation of contemporary journalism’s lack of accountability to the public, and a rousing call to arms for all news organizations to mend their ways and reclaim the role of the press as honest voice of the people.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Blogger Silverman is a man obsessed with pointing out the mistakes of others, though he dreams of a world in which he didn't have to. If media outlets printed their own corrections more thoroughly, amending online content appropriately, embracing their mistakes wholeheartedly, he argues, he wouldn't have to collect and publicize them with such devotion. Having founded regrettheerror.com to tally inaccuracies and corrections in the press, Silverman has set out to chronicle and categorize these errors in his first book. The result is a winding journey through the most glaring, damaging and humorous typos, misprints, misidentifications, "fuzzy numbers" and "obiticides" in the history of journalism, from the accidental to the malicious. These chapters are chock-full of amusing historical anecdotes, including the story behind the incorrect headline "Dewey Defeats Truman," the case of mistaken identity that galvanized Nobel to create his prestigious awards, and the oft-presumed dead but still living Abe Vigoda. Silverman injects plenty of humor, but mostly he is deeply concerned about the science of journalism, and at the heart of this romp is an argument for increased public participation in the news cycle. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402765643
  • Publisher: Sterling Publishing
  • Publication date: 2/3/2009
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 825,674
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Paperback Edition xi

Foreword xxv

Introduction 1

Statement of Accuracy 13

Chapter 1 A Brief History of Media Accuracy and Errors 15

Oral News 18

Written News 18

Birth of the Newspaper: The Seventeenth-Century Press 21

The Eighteenth Century and the Fourth Estate 25

The Nineteenth Century: From Excess and Error to Responsibility 28

Chapter 2 Mass Media: Born of a Big Lie 30

Hearst, Pulitzer, and Sulzberger: A Battle for the Soul of Journalism 39

The Twentieth Century: Accuracy as Code 45

Chapter 3 Regrets, More Than a Few 49

"Dewey Defeats Truman" 49

A Theory of Error 54

Chapter 4 The Truth About Media Errors 65

Print Media Errors 65

Broadcast Errors 70

Uncorrected Errors 76

The Necessity of Error (No, really) 82

The Corrections: Multiple Offenses 87

Chapter 5 Common Errors 91

Names and Titles 93

The Corrections: Names and Titles 98

Typos 102

The Corrections: Typos 107

Numbers 117

The Corrections: Fuzzy Numbers 128

Chapter 6 Unreliable Sources and Malicious Reporters 138

Unreliable Sources 139

Malicious Reporters 149

The Lesson Not Learned 162

Chapter 7 Obiticide: Death by Media 166

Planned Obiticide 175

Obiticide and the Average Citizen 179

The Corrections 181

Chapter 8 Mistakes and the Mistaken 186

The Mobster and the Clown 188

The Terrorist 194

Doctors, Lawyers, and the Accused 197

Tainted Images 200

The Corrections 203

Misidentifications and Personal Errors 203

Photo Misidentifications 208

Chapter 9 Errors Heard Round the World 213

The Twenty-Four-Hour Broken Telephone 216

Too Incredible Not to Report 219

Chapter 10 The Trouble withCorrections 225

Corrections: A Brief History 227

Birth of the Modern Correction 229

Online Corrections 233

Broadcast Corrections 235

The Failure of Corrections 237

The Art of Correction 243

The Corrections: Strange and Sublime 249

So Sorry: Remarkable Apologies 258

Chapter 11 The Disappearance of Newspaper Proofreading 265

"Farewell, Etaoin Shrdlu" 266

The Demise of Newspaper Proofreaders 268

Chapter 12 The Birth (and Slow Death) of Magazine Fact Checking 275

Anatomy of the Checker 279

Everybody Has a System 284

Death by a Thousand Cuts 286

Chapter 13 Watching the Detectives: The Rise of External Fact Checking 293

Distributed Fact Checking: RatherGate 296

Media-Monitoring Organizations 305

Chapter 14 The Big Newspaper in the Sky 310

Accuracy Training 313

Ombudsmen as Error Trackers 315

Instant Source Surveys 316

The Corrections 317

Updates and Mistakes 317

Online Corrections 318

Fact Checking and Plagiarism Detection 321

Embracing the Lighter Side of Accuracy 323

For Readers 326

How to Request a Correction 326

Ensuring Accuracy When Interviewed 328

The Way Forward 328

Afterword 332

Acknowledgments 336

Notes 338

Index 358

Error Report Form 368

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