In August, The New York Times published an unusual correction. Ryan Tate at Gawker reported the newspaper “had erroneously called Republican presidential candidate John McCain a ‘fighter pilot‘ on Sunday and in “numerous other Times articles the past dozen years.”
” Wow, a correction that spans more than a decade! When McCain was famously shot down over Vietnam, he was flying his usual plane, a small jet aircraft known as the A-4 Skyhawk, which the Times now refers to as an ‘ attack aircraft’…
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“The Times should not be so easily cowed, particularly when 12 years worth of coverage is at stake. The newspaper no doubt did its own investigation, and ‘attack aircraft’ is a more appropriate term for the A-4 than ‘fighter.’ It’s not the “F-4″ after all but there’s no need to backtrack from using a perfectly accurate alternative name.”
Read more here.
Editor’s note: The obvious question is not answered by the NY Times in the correction : “Why now, after 12 years?” iMediaEthics thinks that this unusual correction provides a good example of why, ethically, sources for corrections should be cited by The Times and explanations given about exactly how corrections came to be made.