Washington Post: Fenty Defeats Gray!

Yesterday, city council president Vincent Gray defeated abrasive incumbent Adrian Fenty in D.C.’s Democratic mayoral primary. (Gray is all but guaranteed to take office in November.) Fenty’s defeat was hard to take for many—including, apparently, The Washington Post. CJR contributor Lester Feder sent me a screenshot confirming that, earlier this morning, the front page of the paper’s local politics site, PostLocal, reversed the vote totals, showing Fenty defeating Gray by a margin of 53 percent to 46 percent. The screenshot, with the relevant error highlighted, is below:

The Hamster Wheel at work!

Look, I know this is the Internet and all that, but there’s absolutely no excuse for making that sort of error. Just because you can quickly fix a mistake online doesn’t make it any more acceptable to make those mistakes in the first place. It would be a big deal if this had made it onto the print version’s front page; web content should be subject to the same sort of rigorous copy editing and double-checking—especially at a place like The Washington Post.

The Post fixed the error soon after Feder noticed it. Nothing on their site indicates that they ever screwed it up in the first place.

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Justin Peters is editor-at-large of the Columbia Journalism Review.