To err is human—and to laugh at erring is too

Every year, The Poynter Institute chronicles some of the errors made by the world’s media—and the ensuing corrections. Some are serious mistakes and have serious repercussions, like the Error of the Year given to 60 Minutes for its flawed Benghazi report. But most veer towards the comical. Either way, 2013’s lot are worth a read

Our favourites: 

The Sunday People (U.K.):

On 16 September we published an article headed ‘I’ve had Moore women than James Bond’ which claimed that Sir Roger Moore had recently spoken exclusively to The People and made comments to our journalist about his private life. We now accept that Sir Roger did not give an interview to our reporter and did not make the comments that were reported in the headline. We apologise for any distress and embarrassment our article has caused to Sir Roger Moore and we have agreed to pay him damages and legal costs.

The Sun (U.K.):

In an article on Saturday headlined ‘Flying saucers over British Scientology HQ’, we stated “two flat silver discs” were seen “above the Church of Scientology HQ”. Following a letter from lawyers for the Church, we apologise to any alien lifeforms for linking them to Scientologists.

London Evening Standard:

In our diary article “Museum finally signs its deal to be fine and dandy” (August 7, 2013) we referred to the exhibition of the late Sebastian Horsley’s suits at the Museum of London and the Whoresley show, an exhibition of his pictures at the Outsiders Gallery. By unfortunate error we referred to Rachel Garley, the late Sebastian Horsley’s girlfriend, who arranged the exhibitions, as a prostitute. We accept that Ms Garley is not and has never been a prostitute. We offer our sincere apologies to Ms Garley for the damage to her reputation and the distress and embarrassment she has suffered as a result.

Tampa Bay Times:

This story has been updated to reflect the following change: A Tampa Bay Times reporter not strong in the ways of the force (or Star Wars lore) quoted the event’s moderator, Croix Provence, as asking: “Are you ready to find love in all the wrong places?” What Provence actually said was: “Are you ready to find love in Alderaan places?” She was referring to Princess Leia Organa’s home world, which appeared briefly in the 1977 film. Regret the error, we do.

The New York Times:

An obituary on Sept. 20 about Hiroshi Yamauchi, the longtime president of Nintendo, included a quotation from a 1988 New York Times article that inaccurately described the Nintendo video game Super Mario Bros. 2. The brothers Mario and Luigi, who appear in this and other Nintendo games, are plumbers, not janitors.

The New York Times:

An article last Sunday about the documentary maker Morgan Spurlock, who has a new film out on the boy band One Direction, misstated the subject of his 2012 movie “Mansome.” It is about male grooming, not Charles Manson. The article also misspelled the name of the production company of Simon Cowell, on whose “X Factor” talent competition show One Direction was created. The company is Syco, not Psycho.

The New York Times:

An article on Monday about a recall election facing Colorado lawmakers who supported gun-control legislation referred incorrectly to one of the Republican challengers expected to face John Morse, the State Senate president, on the ballot. The candidate, Bernie Herpin, is a former city councilman, not an author of erotic novels. (Jaxine Bubis, a novelist turned politician, has dropped out of the race.)

And, of course, KTVU-TV in Oakland broadcasting these names after an Asiana flight crashed in San Francisco. 

And on a related note, good to see ‘Muphrys Law’, an adage that states that “If you write anything criticising editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written,” making an appearance. 

Correction: This post originally, and incorrectly referred to the “World Heath Organization,” rather than the World Health Organization. It also misspelled Marissa Mayer’s last name as “Meyer” in one place, and incorrectly referred to Virginia Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe as the current governor. (He gets sworn in on Jan. 11, 2014.) KTVU is based in Oakland not San Francisco as originally posted. Thanks to the commenters/Twitter users who spotted these!

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