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’…
“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.