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The Washington Post‘s corrections policy takes an institutional approach to blame-taking. No one gets called out for screwing up, not even by position. Here’s how the standard correction reads:
A Dec. 5 Page One article incorrectly said that Ben Edwards is the only doctor within a 45-mile radius of Post, Tex. Edwards is the only doctor within a 25-mile radius.
That treatment leaves unanswered who made the mistake. And at a place like the Post, that could be any number of people—-a line editor, a copy editor, the reporter, Marcus Brauchli.
It’s just this reticence that is right now biting Akeya Dickson on the ass. She’s the author of a recent piece that produced one of the all-time great Washington Post corrections:
A Nov. 26 article in the District edition of Local Living incorrectly said a Public Enemy song declared 9/11 a joke. The song refers to 911, the emergency phone number.
Published last week, that little nostra culpa got tons of rotation on Twitter and elsewhere. And since there’s no specificity in the correction about the error’s origin, the presumption is that Dickson is the one plagued with tone deafness on pop culture.
A few inquiries, however, turn up a rumor that it wasn’t Dickson who made the mistake but rather a copy editor. Post spokesperson Kris Coratti confirms the scuttlebutt. Efforts to ID the copy editor who made the mistake have thus far been unsuccessful.
Dickson declined to comment on the matter—-and why would she react any differently? After all, telling the truth would entail ratting out an editor. That’s the job of a good correction. Hasn’t the Post ever heard of the term “Due to an editing error…..”?