The Post on Goof

>UPDATE: Another question: Will others such as Reuters, MSNBC and others also have to issue corrections? And is the Politico getting an unfair thumping for doing the same thing other outlets did? HuffPo’s Rachel Sklar says:

    Update: More self-flagellation from Ben. Ben! It’s okay! Let’s not forget how freaking long it takes other news sources to even issue a correction, let alone admit, update and explain. So, breathe. It’s not like you had sex with a dead deer.

One reader wrote in to FishbowlDC to wonder why yesterday’s Edwards story merited a full story from Howard Kurtz, but when the Post goofed here, Kurtz kept his hands off.

From Jim Brady:

    A few hours later, we saw a tipster on DC FishBowl had mentioned we’d published a bad headline. At that point, we were unaware — and, in fact, rather doubtful — that we had published any page that included bad information. But, after seeing that report, I asked the home page team to look into it. They plowed through our home page publishing archive and found that, for reasons still unknown, the bad page was indeed published out at 12:32:20, and replaced by the page with the headline, “Edwards: Wife’s Cancer Is Back” at 12:33:11, meaning the bad page was live for 51 seconds. They reported this information to me, and we sent an e-mail to the group that manages the home page tool to ask how that bad page might have been published. We still don’t know why this publish occurred.

    I originally wrote this off as one of those minor publishing snafus that occasionally happen in the Web business, largely because it had been up less than a minute, and wasn’t a journalistic error but a technical one. Nonetheless, it was an embarrassing error, and I apologize for the fact it happened. The Post’s Howard Kurtz just posted an article on this issue.

Read the full thing here and Brady welcomes comments on the issue.

From Howie Kurtz:

    Especially embarrassing because I reported in The Post yesterday that and Reuters, each quoting an unnamed source, had carried pieces that Edwards was going to suspend his campaign before the former senator’s news conference in North Carolina. The news was already out at the time of The Post’s online screwup.

    Leonard Downie Jr., the newspaper’s executive editor, said he was upset that the newsroom was not notified. “This was a big story,” Downie said. “The fact that we had a wrong report up for 51 seconds–even though it was unintentional–should have been known to us in the newsroom.”

    Brady said he learned of the foulup early yesterday afternoon after a tip had been carried on the Media Bistro blog Fishbowl DC.

    “The mistake I made was in not alerting people that it had happened because it was a high-profile story,” Brady said. “We should have been up front.”

    Fishbowl DC posted a screen shot of the erroneous headline this morning. Brady said his staff is investigating possible defects in their publishing tools to prevent a recurrence.

    “At least we know we have a problem with the tool now,” he said, “but that’s not the way I’d prefer to find out about it.”

One reader says that this is the Post’s “first instant mea culpa, written in first person online, in the paper’s history.” Ironically enough, we’ve seen those before in — you guessed it — the Politico.

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