The first winner was David Hummerston of the West Australian. Here’s a sample of his work:
Old Sparky: The compilers and suppliers of our On This Day column deserve to learn a lot more about electric execution. The recidivist column wrongly stated that the first electric chair execution took place on July 7, 1890. In fact, it was Wednesday, August 6, 1890 in New York - ironically then known as The Electric City of the Future - that wife-killer William Kemmler became the first man executed in an electric chair. Although Dr George C. Fell said Kemmler “never suffered a bit of pain”, a reporter who also witnessed the execution wrote in the New York Herald the next day that “strong men fainted and fell like logs upon the floor”.
Bad conduct: Charles Mackerras was not born in Australia (Emma hits heights, Today, page 6, December 1). The eminent orchestra conductor was born to Australian parents in 1925 in musical-sounding Schenectady, New York. Apropos of nothing, Schenectady was where, in 1886, the Machine Works company was set up by Thomas Edison, who also knew a thing or two about conductors.
Now compare those to a January correction from the Chicago Sun-Times:
A story in Wednesday’s paper contained a quote attributed to Evanston police commander Tom Guenther that was taken out of context.
Or this correction published by the Ottawa Sun last February:
An article in yesterday’s Sun incorrectly identified the Canadian Coalition for Action on Tobacco.
A month earlier, MSNBC.com offered this correction:
For a brief period on Dec. 20, msnbc.com misstated the chances of an asteroid’s collision with Mars.
These corrections are pointless, a waste of words and space. Fortunately, the solution to incorrect corrections is rather simple: editors should write corrections as if the words and message come from a human being and are intended to be easily read and understood by other humans.
You know, almost as if they were examples of journalism.
Correction of the Week
“Immaculate misconception: We got ourselves in almost as much of a tangle as former bishop Fernando Lugo, who has now had three separate allegations of paternity levelled against him (President hit with third baby claim, page 26, April 24). The former man of the cloth might get around but he is the President of Paraguay only, not Peru as we misconceived.” – West Australian
Infamous Last Words
“An obituary of Maurice Jarre (31 March, page 36) opened with a quotation which we are now advised had been invented as a hoax, and was never said by the composer: ‘My life has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life.”’ The article closed with: ‘Music is how I will be remembered,’ said Jarre. ‘When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head and that only I can hear.’ These quotes appear to have originated as a deliberate insertion in the composer’s Wikipedia entry in the wake of his death on 28 March, and from there were duplicated on various internet sites.” – The Guardian
“A Jan. 19, 2008, Metro article incorrectly described the Korean language as using symbols. It has an alphabet.” – The Washington Post