Toronto Star freelancer Michael Clarkson apologized for having “mishandled” a quotation that his sports editor called “below our standards” in sourcing, the Star’s public editor Kathy English reported.
The article originally included a quote from Canadian Motor Speedway CEO Azhar Mohammed that reads: “We will try to attract NASCAR because it’s catered to them.” The article, which reported on the “proposed Canadian Motor Speedway” and its plans, prompted a complaint from Mohammed, according to English, who called the errors “a lapse in journalistic standards.”
English reported that the published quote attributed to Mohammed “was a paraphrased version of words attributed to Mohammed that had been published in an Oct. 18 report on the website of another news organization — Buffalo’s WKBW Eyewitness News.” However, the quote as published by the Star suggested “Clarkson had interviewed Mohammed.” Clarkson’s Nov. 5 article now carries a correction at the top of the article linking to English’s column that reads:
“CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misrepresented and did not properly attribute words of Canadian Motor Speedway’s Azhar Mohammed.In fact, Mohammed did not say the speedway is being built to attract NASCAR.”
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Clarkson told English the WKBW quote came from an anonymous “trusted source,” but that “I should have made it clear where it came from and I am usually careful about doing so, but I didn’t in this case.” Clarkson also defended his report as “an accurate depiction of the speedway issue,” while acknowledging that he “mishandled the quote” and apologizing.
As an aside, English noted that Mohammed also claimed WKBW “misquoted him.”
iMediaEthics has written to Clarkson for more information about this incident, including any effects it may have on his writing, if he knew the quote came from WKBW and if he has any response to English’s criticism. We’ve also asked WKBW if Mohammad has complained about any misquote and we’ve e-mailed Mohammad asking if he’s satisfied with the Star’s response to his complaint. We will update with any responses.