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June 18, 2010

Correcting the Record: MUST READ

Anyone can get a story wrong. Online writers link to each other all the time. There's an element of trust there - trust that we're all committed to being as accurate as possible.

Still, mistakes happen. The question is, what do you do when you find out you published something that wasn't true?

For her the experience was a first. For me, it was just the (then) latest example of someone turning to me with behind-the-scenes trouble with Mike Yon.

It wouldn't be the last.

Postscript: The Daily Mail version of the story, and the version posted by Mike Yon at Big Journalism (long after he had acknowledged its inaccuracies and pledged to correct it on his own site), remain uncorrected to this day.

The thing is, if we don't correct our own mistakes the whole thing kind of falls apart, doesn't it?

It's something to think about.

Posted by Cassandra at June 18, 2010 02:29 PM

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This one is confusing to me. In the first report of this Yon seemed to get it right. He facilitated the connection between Soldiers Angels and British commanders so that they could keep up with the soldier and his family's status. He even goes on to state that's all he did, nothing more. Also Ms. Phillips details all the heroic efforts made by various military units. So far so good.

Along comes Peter Almond and the story changes. Now we have Yon contacting Soldiers Angels, which is the lifesaving step. Where did Almond get this information? He admitted he got it wrong, and he didn't just make it up. The British officers? No, they would have been scrupulous about the events. Ms. Phillips? No, we know she didn't, she was informed after the story broke. That leaves Yon himself.

How many other stories has he embellished? It doesn't matter now. Whatever he prints I for one will always wonder: is that exactly the truth?

Posted by: Allen at June 18, 2010 05:39 PM

It's incredibly easy for stories to get messed up online.

I am very careful and yet I've had to post corrections at least 6 times I can think of over 6 years.

I wouldn't make any assumptions about why Almond wrote what he did b/c we can't know that. To me, the takeaway here was that two people went above and beyond to get the correct information out there for a good reason (and that doesn't even count the efforts of SA).

I remember when I first started blogging - I was terrified of getting something wrong. The instant nature of blogging is bad enough - in general I read 5-10 times as much material for a post as I actually use. It's time consuming.

And yet, it's so much more of an instant medium than even opinion writing. I don't have all day to work on a post, or multiple days.

It used to worry me and it still worries me, frankly. That's why I think the blogosphere's tradition of prompt corrections is so important.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 18, 2010 06:19 PM

I would normally agree with you on this but I think it's different in this case. For one reason only, a small number of people (3?) were involved in disseminating the info.

But what the heck :) it's Friday.

Posted by: Allen at June 18, 2010 07:26 PM

How many other stories has he embellished? It doesn't matter now. Whatever he prints I for one will always wonder: is that exactly the truth?

Look into the lung machine origin. Part of that story sounds like an advertisement, which makes me suspect behind the scenes funding for products and services.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 18, 2010 11:39 PM

I don't believe that, Ymar.

I also believe Mr. Almond made an honest mistake. He explained how he came to his conclusion in the quoted correspondence, and apologized for his error.

Posted by: MaryAnn at June 19, 2010 04:24 PM

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