Mea Culpa 2008

Jan. 1, 2008
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It's been a long, strange year for this short, regular feature.

Usually, the best media apologies fall into one of a few categories. There are apologies for the things too awful to consider ever happening, like San Francisco's Asian Week printing the story "Why I Hate Blacks" in March.

There are the minor mistakes which lead to corrections far more interesting than the errors themselves, like when the (Lancaster) Intelligencer Journal ended a minor clarification (that a photo of Rev. James Santiago was attributed to another man) with an incredible non-sequitur:

The story included an incorrect identification of Santiago's wife, Pam. Also, Santiago was addicted to crack cocaine for 12 years.

There are the bizarre factual errors, like the Associated Press's September obituary for a man that the AP (as well as the deceased's family and friends) wrongly believed was former major league pitcher, and living man, Bill Henry.

And there are the typos, like my favorite image of the year:

But very few apologies so encompass all of those delineations as the Sydney Morning Herald's from August 13:

David Marr unfortunately misquoted me in "A fallen leader of faith" (August 4-5). I actually said that I endured the naked beatings, paternal bum caresses etc from Frank Houston, not enjoyed them. I can assure readers that the experience wasn't pleasurable but painful, both at the time and for some years later. Peter Laughton Carrara (Qld)

It's okay to laugh.

I think.

That's why I'm giving the Sydney Morning Herald the inaugural Mea Culpa (52) Monday(s) award. If the staff ever finds itself in Milwaukee, well, I guess I owe them a custard.


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