September 09, 2003


Reader Aaron Hall recently contacted The Sydney Morning Herald about a re-written NYT piece that appeared in the SMH, and which was mentioned on this site. Here’s the relevant section of his e-mail:

A look at the original New York Times article shows that it cites growing "worry" about terror attacks by Jews, but the Herald altered this to a growing "number" of terror attacks, something not borne out by the figures in the article itself.

And here’s the response:

Dear Aaron,

Recently you contacted ReaderLink. Your interest in the newspaper is

The following information outlines the Herald's response:

The change was by a subeditor who had to bring back an 1100-word NYT
feature to 620 words. Given the sensitivities of the issue, sub-editors need to be very careful to maintain the copy's original content. The Editors have considered your email and have decided not to publish a clarification. However, the issue has been brought up in a meeting with the Foreign Desk.

Your ongoing feedback and opinions will help us publish a better

Please quote 00011773 if you wish to contact ReaderLink again regarding
this matter.


Nerida, Penny & Josh

It’s a blatant error, utterly unrelated to the SMH’s abbreviation of the piece, yet no “clarification” (let alone a correction) is offered by the SMH -- or from editorial mavens “Nerida, Penny & Josh”, who seem to appreciate the care required in handling such issues but who aren’t overly bothered when that care isn’t taken. Great newspaper you’re running, kids.

Posted by Tim Blair at September 9, 2003 04:13 AM


That's not a blatant error that's an outright falsehood.

Posted by: Harry at September 9, 2003 at 04:24 AM

That anyone is quoting the New York Times is beyond belief. They have been known to make stuff up, you know.

Posted by: ....a moment with Easycure at September 9, 2003 at 05:16 AM

ah, the rare occasion when I agree with you, tim.
their justification was that they were cutting words, but they've merely substituted one word for another.

Posted by: Gianna at September 9, 2003 at 06:24 AM

Hmm. In a comment on one of your previous posts, Tim, I asked what the heck a "subeditor" is, and speculated that it might be someone who isn't good enough at the job to be a real editor. Based on this account, I have to conclude that I guessed right. What a bunch of clueless bozos.

Posted by: Pat Berry at September 9, 2003 at 08:19 AM

Where's the Marrmoset when he's needed? He's been a bit tetchy about the SMH lately as well- maybe he's a permament fixture at Media Watch now. Anyone sent the tip to MW?

Posted by: Habib Bickford at September 9, 2003 at 11:48 AM

Nerida, Penny and Josh: 'Your ongoing feedback and opinions will help us publish a better

No, it won't.

Posted by: pooh at September 9, 2003 at 12:30 PM

They forgot to add: Have a nice day now.
(or maybe that should read: Try to have a nice day, anyway).

Posted by: Rob (No.1) at September 9, 2003 at 12:52 PM

Careful with the subeditor jibes. We have extraordinary powers of deletion.

Posted by: slatts at September 9, 2003 at 03:30 PM

Powers of delusion in this case (The Age, not Slatts).

Posted by: ilibcc at September 9, 2003 at 06:04 PM

Speaking as a sub, or a plain old journalist, I reckon it is an open and shut case for a correction. Doedsn't matter how it happened. I suspect the worry is that they will come off as having made a Freudian slip. Gutless.

Posted by: Dave F at September 9, 2003 at 10:35 PM

Personally, I vote for them having delusions of adequacy.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at September 10, 2003 at 11:43 AM