Sunday, November 06, 2005

My response to the New York Times correction 
Just sent this note to the New York Times' Bill Borders.

Mr. Borders,

Unfortunately, your correction doesn't correct much. The paragraph still contains a number of falsehoolds. Did you even try?

I have long had my doubts about the New York Times' commitment to diversity in the newsroom.

Any military veteran who had served a four year hitch could have told you that

1.) The Marine Corps does, in fact, have non-combat specialties just like the Army does. Quite a number of them, in fact (unless it is the Times' position that the USMC functions without truck drivers, mechanics, communications specialists, linguists, and typists. You can even enlist in the Marine Corps as a violinist! The impression the article created that noncombat specialties were not available with Marine enlistments("unlike the Marines...the Harlem Knights unit signs up for more than 200 noncombat jobs") is flatly false.

2.) Enlistees can sign up for any military occupational specialty in the Army at Sgt Guzman's office or any other general recruiting office in the country. Guzman would be quite happy to sign soldiers up for the infantry. The impression the article creates that Guzman's office specializes in combat support and service support jobs is also false.

3.) The paragraph leaves intact the erroneous impression that combat support and service support soldiers are less deployable than infantry soldiers after advanced individual training. The fact is that all soldiers become deployable when they complete their MOS qualification schools, regardless of MOS. And that's just as true for infantry as it is for flute players.

It's clear to me that the Times editorial staff didn't even try on this one. They just went through the motions, doing the bare minimum in checking their facts.

Rather than have a bunch of nonveterans sit around the table and scratch their heads trying to guess what was wrong, They should have found someone with a DD 214 certificate who knew, and had him or her recast the paragraph completely. Anyone with a military hitch could have done it for you. Does the Times exclude veterans from its hiring, directly or indirectly? Do recruiting editors make any effort to reach out to reporters with military backgrounds or from military communities? What, specifically, are these initiatives, if any?

Do you have a veteran staffer in the newsroom you can go to? How many? Do they work the military beat? Do they do ANY fact checking for you? Does anybody?


Jason Van Steenwyk
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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