<!-- Begin meta tags generated by ORblogs --> </meta name="keywords" content="progressive, liberal, politics, government, edit, language, grammar, accuracy, honesty, clarity, world, news, media" /> </> <!-- End meta tags generated by ORblogs -->> Editor at Large: Sloppy journalism, or "faulty intelligence"?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Sloppy journalism, or "faulty intelligence"?

A headline in today's NY Times states: "12 Miners Found Alive 41 Hours After Explosion." In fact, 12 miners were found dead.

How did this happen? Did the reporter (James Dao) misunderstand his source, thinking the source had said "alive" rather than "dead"? Did the source deliberately misinform him, on the Bush-inspired pretext that false good news is better than true bad news? Was his source the CIA?

Not only is the headline tragically inaccurate, the story accompanying it is startlingly specific about the fantasy fate of the miners. An excerpt:

"Forty-one hours after an explosion trapped 13 men in a West Virginia coal mine here, family members and a state official said 12 of the miners had been found alive Tuesday night. Earlier Tuesday evening, the body of one miner was found 11,200 feet from the mine entrance, within a few hundred feet of a vehicle used to transport the workers deep into the mine, company officials said. The miner was not identified, and the cause of his death was unclear. Joe Thornton, deputy secretary for the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, said the rescued miners were being examined at the mine shortly before midnight and would soon be taken to nearby hospitals. Mr. Thornton said he did not know details of their medical condition."

Imagine how the families and friends of the 12 dead miners felt after first hearing that their loved ones were alive, and then learning that, in fact, they were dead.

As a relative of one of the victims said, "You just don't do this to people."

(Note: The on-line version of the Times contains this addendum following the headline: "An updated version of this article reporting the death of 12 of the 13 miners is available here: After Reports to the Contrary, Only One Miner Survives.")



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