Saturday, November 05, 2005

The New York Times tries to pull a fast one. 
The piece I criticized here entitled Sgt. Guzman's War has been quietly altered by the NY Times editorial staff.

The paragraph I objected to originally read:

Unlike the Marines, Army infantry and Special Forces, which send volunteers straight from boot camp to the front lines, the Harlem Knights Army unit signs potential recruits up for more than 200 noncombat jobs, everything from laundry and textile specialist to flute player to dental specialist.

But without providing readers the courtesy of a corrections notice visible on the page, the Times has amended the term "boot camp" to "training camp" on the edition currently on line.

Cats don't completely bury their turds, however, and evidence of the original error can clearly be seen here.

First of all, the correction doesn't really correct anything; it simply replaces one glaring factual error with another. The fact remains that clerks, medical supply specialists, cooks, and communications technicians are no less deployable upon completion of their MOS qualifications schools than infantry.

And the use of the term "training camp" to describe the Army MOS Qualification schools (AND their USMC equivalents) bespeaks a fundamental ignorance of their nature and purpose. In fact, the story relies on the ignorance of the reader.

The correction is not a correction at all, but the sleight of hand of a lazy editor who really has no more clue about the subject matter than the GA reporter they sent out to talk to Sgt. Guzman, and a newsroom whose culture has become so insufferably lazy and arrogant that they didn't bother to call up someone with some military experience to ask "how can we make this paragraph correct?"

Apparently, the Times' commitment to newsroom diversity doesn't extend to deigning to include military veterans on their newsroom staff, or the problem would have been easily dealt with, and very possibly averted altogether.

Secondly, the failure of the Times to post a correction notice on the online version of the article is beneath the standards of the information age. Even the LA Times will give you a heads-up if an online article had to be corrected.

All in all, the Times performance on this story has been pathetic.

Bill Borders, a senior editor of the New York Times has written me and assured me that a correction will be forthcoming on Sunday, I believe, since the mistake was made in the Sunday edition of the paper.

I'm predicting that the correction will not be much more accurate than the original falsehood, but we'll know tomorrow.

Splash, out


UPDATE: Lots more discussion of the story and the Times' cluelessness in the comments to this post at Press Think

Steve Lovelady makes an appearance. So do I.

You think some Army type called them on the difference between 'boot camp' and 'basic training' and they tried to split the difference?
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