Stacked together, there is an almost comical abundance of factors that make an Obama/Osama mistake likely. Perhaps that’s of consolation to the many journalists who fell victim to it this week. It’s also a valuable caution as there will be many occasions in the future when the two names feature in the same conversation or piece of reporting. Just ask the South China Morning Post:

Correction of the Week

“A timeline in the main news section Monday incorrectly stated how many siblings Osama bin Laden had. He was one of 54 children of a Saudi construction magnate.
Also, a story in some editions Monday on Page 2 about Osama bin Laden’s life said bin Laden died in the lawless badlands of Pakistan along the Afghanistan border. Bin Laden was killed in a house in Abbottabad, north of Islamabad. The story also repeated a paragraph that had some garbled sentences.” - Chicago Tribune

If you'd like to get email from CJR writers and editors, add your email address to our newsletter roll and we'll be in touch.

Craig Silverman is the editor of and the author of Regret The Error: How Media Mistakes Pollute the Press and Imperil Free Speech. He is also the editorial director of and a columnist for the Toronto Star.