Seibel told us he “probably should have” let news outlets know of the changes but didn’t because it’s not his responsibility; rather, he said, it’s Assange’s duty to let them know of errors. That said, he indicated the errors weren’t very important, calling them small wording changes in old, currently low-trafficked stories.
Assange’s urgency came down to a distinction that many readers might have missed, but which go to the heart of his legal predicament. The corrections all relate to reporting on Assange’s extradition battle. Eight articles falsely stated there were charges against Assange. He faces only accusations.
“Truth is, I think Julian’s much more sensitive on the meaning of the word charges than we were,” he said. “What’s the difference between charges and allegations?”
There’s enough difference for Assange to press the matter directly. He wrote to Seibel: “If there is no separate corrections and clarifications page, what alternative would you suggest to address this issue?” and told iMediaEthics by email on June 16: “As they do not have a corrections page, it is unlikely that readers previously misinformed by the articles will view the corrected statements.”
But what Seibel failed to tell Assange is that the Times, The Herald, The Observer and The Bee all have correction pages where Assange’s corrections could have been prominently published in print, online and in databases such as LexisNexis. Most odd is that McClatchy, which does not own the Times, has unbeknownst to the Times, corrected three stories on McClatchy’s website without notifying the paper.