“How Did This Happen?” (“This” being seven eight errors in Alessandra Stanley’s July 17th New York Timesappraisal” of Walter Cronkite.) Clark Hoyt, the Times public editor, took a stab at answering this question yesterday (think: serious, um, work-flow issues?).

Also, Hoyt admits, the Times (Hoyt himself) was warned ahead of time of time —by Walter Cronkite’s son! — to double-check its Cronkite piece/s (had he a hunch that Stanley was writing one of them?) because even CBS News had, in draft obits, fumbled some Cronkite facts:

Two days before his father died, Chip Cronkite sent me an e-mail message labeled, “pre-emptive correction.” He said that CBS, in reviewing its obituary material, had found inaccuracies. “As a life-long admirer of your newspaper,” he said, “may I suggest that you have someone double-check ahead of time?”


Douglas Martin, who had written an advance obit of Cronkite several years earlier, phoned Chip Cronkite. They went over spellings, discussed the cause of death and the like. No one thought to forward Chip Cronkite’s message to the culture department, where Stanley’s appraisal sat.

And, Stanley’s now (back?) in the top five:

Until the Cronkite errors, [Stanley] 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…

…presumably not from one of the “editors most responsible for corrections this year.”

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.