October 18, 2005

Responsible Journalism

Sometimes, journalists simply flub a key fact, as did San Francisco Chronicle Washington correspondent Edward Epstein in this article about Saturday's constitutional referendum in Iraq:

Analysts do not see an end to Iraq's nonstop jockeying among competing ethnic and religious groups or to an insurgency that is averaging 570 attacks a day, despite voters' apparent approval of a new constitution on Saturday.

Epstein claimed that terrorists in Iraq were averaging 570 attacks each day in Iraq. When I emailed him asking for the source of this staggering figure, he quickly responded:

From latest CSIS report:

"The Bush administration's Oct. 2005 report to Congress does not show any decline in the number of attacks before the referendum. They totaled some 570 a week during 29 Aug. to October 2005. This compares with about 470 during 12 Feb-28 Aug.'"

When I pointed out that the report was claiming 570 attacks a week, not a day, (a difference of 3,420 attacks a week), Epstein quipped:

Where were you yesterday, so you could have caught that mistake?

Thanks, we'll run a correction tomorrow.

Professionals and amateurs alike, we all make mistakes from time to time in the stories we write. A certain columnist at the NY Times could learn a lot from Mr. Epstein on how to handle those mistakes.

Cross-posted at

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Posted by Confederate Yankee at October 18, 2005 08:24 PM | TrackBack

Folks, I apologize for doing this, but I'd like to direct your attention to this "bleg" if I may. My PC is on it's last legs, and any help would be greatly appreciated!

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at October 19, 2005 11:28 AM

That was a graceful response. Did he indeed follow-up on his promise to issue a correction? Of course, the paper being the SF Chron, his inadvertent error is probably gracing a thousand protest signs on some street in Berkeley, even as we speak.

Posted by: Bookworm at October 20, 2005 08:58 PM