BROOKE GLADSTONE: This is On the Media. I'm Brooke Gladstone. BOB GARFIELD: And I'm Bob Garfield. In the rush to get the story, journalists don't always get the story, you know, right. Over the course of a year, the corrections pile up, yielding a comedy of errors and sometimes tragedy, as well. Each December the blog Regret the Error tallies the year's most notable mistakes and omissions. Blogger Craig Silverman joins us, once again, to review the low lights. Craig, welcome back to the show. CRAIG SILVERMAN: Thank you. BOB GARFIELD: Let's begin with two of the errors of the year. One of them, the Sago mine disaster. How did that make the list? CRAIG SILVERMAN: The story that went over the airwaves and over the wires and ended up on front pages really all across North America was that twelve of the miners who had been trapped underground had, in fact, been found alive. The reality was only one miner came out alive.
And it was heartbreaking because you had this wonderful news, spread far and wide. In fact, I think that the media wouldn't have been so quick to jump on a story that didn't have any substantiation to it, if it had been the bad news. If it had been the actual truth, I think folks would have waited a bit and said, okay is this actually the reality.
But it was good news. Everyone wanted to hear it. Everyone wanted to splash it on the front page. And so, I think it got out even quicker. BOB GARFIELD: Although, in defense of the media who made the mistake, we should observe that the source on this was the official on the scene, the mining company and, I believe, the municipal government, no? CRAIG SILVERMAN: That's right. And I did consider, actually, demoting it to runner-up this year because of the fact that you can't put all the blame on the media for this. The company didn't actually stand out and say, look, we don't know that that's the case or that's not the case. They let the news spread far and wide. And so, there's certainly a huge amount of culpability on their part. BOB GARFIELD: Your other number one also is an unhappy one. It concerns an incendiary and false report coming out of Iran. Tell me about it. CRAIG SILVERMAN: In May of this past year the National Post, which is a national newspaper in Canada, received word from a freelance Iranian journalist that a law had been passed in Iran that could actually lead to people who were non-Muslims having to wear a badge or some kind of identifier on their clothing to say, you know, for example, that they were Jewish.
And so, the newspaper took six columns of their front page and put a huge picture of Jews wearing stars on their clothing from World War II and wrote a story about Iran possibly requiring Jews to wear badges on their clothing. And it ended up being completely incorrect.
And the reason that they did not get the correct information was that they basically went with a couple of sources and when they didn't hear back from other people, more definitive people, they made the decision to sort of go or no-go, and they went. And within a few days after that, they had to put out a full apology and retraction. BOB GARFIELD: Some corrections are slow to arrive. You noticed a trend among southern papers atoning decades late for their coverage of the civil rights movement. Who apologize for what? And why now? CRAIG SILVERMAN: It's, it's an interesting trend. I don't expect it to catch on everywhere far and wide. I do think the fact that you're dealing with racism is, you know, particularly harmful and particularly sensitive. And I don't think it's an accident that the majority of these are dealing with racism.
You had the Tallahassee Democrat run a special section about a bus boycott that happened in 1956, and they ran an article, an apology. It was headlined, "Fifty Years in Coming, Our Apology.” And it apologized for their role for not standing up, not lending a hand and for the paper actually opposing integration.
The other two from this year came from the Raleigh News and Observer and the Charlotte Observer, and they apologized for race riots that erupted in 1898. Now, that takes the cake there. You're talking about, you know, almost 120 years later. If every newspaper and media outlet decides to look into its past, we might actually have newspapers filled with apologies going back decades every single day. There's probably a lot to apologize for. BOB GARFIELD: Errors, of course, aren't limited to the print media. They show up in broadcast as well. You had a couple of favorites this year. CRAIG SILVERMAN: Yeah. We gave the Open Mic Gaff this year to an incident where Kyra Phillips had been on the air, on CNN, did her stint as an anchor, and then was on her way to the ladies' room, but she forgot to take off her microphone, or at least turn it off.
So as President Bush was live on the air [BOB LAUGHING], talking about New Orleans, the audio suddenly chimed in with her calling her brother's wife "a control freak." [BOB LAUGHING] KYRA PHILLIPS (ON MIC): Of course, brothers have to be, you know, protective. [SIMULTANEOUSLY] PRESIDENT BUSH: ...and we're now working together in better fashion. KYRA PHILLIPS: Except for mine. I've got to be protective of him.
PRESIDENT BUSH: And step one of rebuilding is to assure people if another hurricane comes. KYRA PHILLIPS: Ohh, yeah. He's married, three kids but his wife is just a control freak! BOB GARFIELD: [LAUGHING] CRAIG SILVERMAN: It didn't get much worse than that, but that's still pretty bad. BOB GARFIELD: You gave the Sun, the Fleet Street tabloid, an award of demerit. It's a very special newspaper to you, isn't it? CRAIG SILVERMAN: They are really something quite spectacular. They report some of the most outrageous stories and, as a result, they have some of the most outrageous apologies and corrections. They really have a special place in my heart, although I don't really advocate that kind of journalism. BOB GARFIELD: But they did give you the Correction of the Year. Read for me, please, the correction in its entirety. CRAIG SILVERMAN: The Correction of the Year involves a report about a teenage princess' birthday party in the U.K. And the correction reads as follows: "Following our article on Princess Eugenie's birthday celebrations, we have been asked to point out that the party was closely monitored by adults throughout, and while a small amount of mess was cleared away at the end of the evening, there was no damage to furniture, no revelers dived into bedrooms in search of drunken romps. And to describe the house as being trashed was incorrect. We are happy to make this clear and regret any distress-- [BOB LAUGHING] --our report caused. BOB GARFIELD: [LAUGHS] Craig, thank you very much for joining us.
CRAIG SILVERMAN: Thank you. BOB GARFIELD: Craig Silverman writes the blog, regrettheerror.com. He joined us from Montreal.