Saturday, February 23, 2008

Reuters makes its mistakes vanish

Abe Greenwald at Commentary magazine is frustrated by Reuters' Orwellian approach to changing history:

Reuters, the news agency with a policy forbidding the word “terrorist” from their stories and a penchant for printing doctored photos as evidence of Israeli aggression, has done it again.

Yesterday, Reuters posted a story entitled “Sadr Expected to End Truce”, implying it was likely that Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al Sadr would end his Mahdi Army’s six-month ceasefire in Iraq. I can’t offer the URL of that story because once their cynical prediction was proved immediately wrong (today, Sadr announced that he’d be extending the ceasefire another six months) the link started bringing me to a new Reuters story entitled (surprise, surprise) “Iraqi Cleric Sadr Extends Militia Ceasefire.” Soon after that, the original headline disappeared from internet searches altogether.

Stephen Burt at Done With Mirrors defends the news media:
This is not a conspiracy. This is the way journalism operates. It is
intent on presenting the most up-to-date versions of a story, and if
earlier versions of the stories are outdated or wrong, it no longer
keeps them before the public. In many cases they are wrong because the
journalists unconsciously let their biases shade their reporting. But
that's not why you can't find the old version of the story anymore.
That is partly reasonable but it is also a facile and convenient excuse. It is hard to imagine any other institution as important to democracy as the press that would be allowed to cover up its mistakes and hide its responsibility for errors with the simple excuse that it is their custom to destroy all records.

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