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  • NY Times Fact Checkers Take a Nap, Incident#23,436

    Posted by Shannon Love on September 6th, 2007 (All posts by )

    In an article on international productivity, the New York Times describes France’s reformist president Nicolas Sarkozy thusly:

    France, where President Nicolas Sarkozy has pushed for a reduction in the workweek to an average of 35 hours…

    Every other news story on the subject describes Sarkozy as a critic of the 35-hour work week who seeks to provide loopholes to allow workers to evade the work cap.

    Even the NY Times’s own reports say so:

    Although he provided few details, Mr. Sarkozy indicated that he would push for additional cuts in payroll taxes and ways to encourage people to work beyond the statutory 35-hour workweek.

    This is a minor error. Yet, when you think of the sheer volume of the NYT’s reporting and its disproportionate impact on public debate, a minor error every story or two really adds up.

     

    9 Responses to “NY Times Fact Checkers Take a Nap, Incident#23,436”

    1. Nathan Zuckerman Says:

      Homer nods

    2. david foster Says:

      I don’t think this was a minor error. No one who knows anything about international business and economics would have said this or let it pass.

      Note that the story was from Reuters.

    3. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Errors? The NYTimes spits on your bourgeois errors. No. There are only failures to comply with Party directives, but they are few and far between.

    4. veryretired Says:

      It’s not the relentless bias that’s the problem, as any discerning reader can see it, and only the unrealistic expect objective reporting to begin with.

      No, the real issues are the triviality, sensationalism, woeful ignorance about much of the subject matter, and the craven cowardice, intellectual and moral cowardice regardless of occasional physical courage, that permeates the membership of the fourth estate.

      The differences between the now defunct “Weekly World News”, home of Batboy, and the soon to be defunct NY Times are harder and harder to distinguish, if there are any at all.

      The popular media are a disgrace to the 1st Amendment that protects them, and betray the blood of the many honorable men and women who have sacrificed to defend their right to publish freely.

    5. ironchefoklahoma Says:

      True enough. However, it’s slightly humorous to misspell “sheer” when complaining about another’s facts.

    6. Jonathan Says:

      True enough. However, it’s slightly humorous to misspell “sheer” when complaining about another’s facts.

      I just corrected this minor spelling error. Does the NYT acknowledge its errors on far more significant matters, much less correct them? To ask this question is to define a large part of the NYT’s problem. (The other part, of course, is brought on by the rampant insertion into articles of political bias mislabeled as reporting or analysis.)

    7. Michael Blowhard Says:

      Always great to police the factual accuracy of Big Media. Nice catch.

      All that said, two points. 1) Are you sure that the Times has fact-checkers? No real idea myself, but I’d doubt it. Some magazines still have fact-checkers, but most don’t, and most newspapers don’t.

      2) As someone in the news biz, what tends to amaze me aren’t the mistakes that get through, it’s that 98 or 99% of the facts that appear in the big media outlets are accurately reported. Given the conditions people work in (short deadlines, insane bosses, etc), that’s really pretty good. (We all make mistakes at work, right? No different at media businesses, except that you’re doing it in public.) My beef with the way the news is reported seldom has to do with factual accuracy, where I think the American mainstream places are really pretty good, all things considered. It’s with selectivity, bias, shading, ignorance, groupthink, etc. But strictly so far as facts go, I think they do a good job.

      But still a great catch, tks.

    8. Shannon Love Says:

      Michael Blowhard,

      Former New York Times executive editor Howell Raines once made a snotty comment about old media being superior to bloggers and other decentralized media because old media used fact checkers to insure the reliability of their information. Of course, the internet age has shown that old media often sucks when it comes down to making sure that elementary facts get reported. That makes a certain amount of schadenfreude inevitable.

    9. Michael Blowhard Says:

      Shannon — Let’s enjoy the schadenfreude whenever possible, and throw mud at the Howell Raines’ of the world too.

      Still … This posting includes a statement by a NYT VP which confirms what I suspected: there is no systematic fact-checking at the Times, or really at many newspapers. At all. In my experience, magazines have been cutting back on fact-checking too.