The Wall Street Journal Disappears an Error

Friday, July 29, 2011


In the wake of the Oslo attacks, The Wall Street Journal published an editorial blaming the violence on Islamic extremists. When further reporting revealed that the killer wasn’t a Muslim, the Journal changed its editorial online without issuing any sort of correction. Craig Silverman, who tracks newspaper corrections at his website Regret the Error, tells Bob that the Journal acted dishonestly. 

(You can see the original article here, and the edited one over here.) 

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Comments [17]

Keith Simpson

Yes this was only an editorial. Editorial writers are entitled to their own "facts". It's up to the public to determine if they are lying and providing a disservice to a democratic society.

Aug. 08 2011 08:40 AM

Can no longer see the substituted editorial because of WSJ's paywall. Can you still post a visual?

Aug. 06 2011 07:24 AM
Mitch Steiner from Massachusetts

On the podcast, the promo that immediately followed this story was:
"On The Media is supported by, with tools designed to help lawyers, doctors and business professionals protect and improve their online reputations."

Would it also help editorial writers?

Aug. 04 2011 02:43 PM
Margie Freaney from New Delhi

Does OTM believe that is good journalistic practice to contact the organization criticized to give a chance for comment? Why, then, no attempt to get a comment from WSJ? Perhaps OTM doesn't want to ruin a good story--and a good jab?

Aug. 04 2011 11:34 AM
Mort Moore from The Great Blogosphere

Thatwood B. Telling:
Yeah, you "find it funny," but fail to realize that it *is* funny.
Bob and Silverman are being facetious; both realize that it's an inconsequential error which doesn't call for any formal error correction, much less the exaggerated lengths he says he'll go into.
You might want to see a doctor to recalibrate your funny bone.

Aug. 03 2011 08:21 AM
Thatwood B. Telling

I find it funny that Silverman makes a minor mistake in his interview with Bob, is corrected by Bob and says he'll issue a correction on his website when he links to the interview. I've been to his website and have seen where he links to the interview. I see no correction.

Sounds like he owes two corrections now: one for a simple, meaningless mistake and another for breaking his word.

(On the other hand, if I missed the correction at his site, I'm ready to stand corrected myself.)

Aug. 03 2011 02:28 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

As with Francisco, my first thought was "What did WInston Smith do for a living?" The author wasn't really speaking about a totalitarian future but the democratic present in 1948, the year it was written, a typical 20th Century tactic to avoid censors. It worked.

Aug. 03 2011 02:18 AM
Gretchen goethner from Fairfield, CT

WHAT sources originally indicated that this was an Islamic inspired attack? Please identify the original error of fact.

Aug. 02 2011 08:41 PM
Tom in middle America from Middle America (former NYC resident)

Re-writing history: It is not the crime of the century, but it is tacky and wonder-making.
It would not have been the end of the world to write another editorial with a small correction saying they remained concerned about Islamic extremists, even if it turned out not to be the case here. One indeed is tempted to start wondering about the Murdoch corporate culture of secret dealings.

The comparison of certain commentators assailing Sarah Palin's grotesque use of "reload and shoot" metaphors and imagery as it may or may not have related to the Giffords shooting is irrelevant. One might disagree, but it=certainly remains a troubling issue even if the alleged shooter does not specifically identify that as a source.

(And as a historian, I find the re-writing aspect utterly appalling, but typical of those with short memories who don't know or misconstrue the Depression for example.)

Aug. 02 2011 07:02 PM

Craig is right, here: this was not a news story. It was an *editorial*: they are not entitled to correct it *at all*; this was the Paper, giving its opinion. If they didn't have enough information to *have* an opinion, it should be obvious, later, that they didn't care about that.

I sure hope Jon Stewart notices this.

Aug. 02 2011 02:02 PM

From James Taranto's Best of the Web, July 26, 2011:
"The Wall Street Journal ... explained the final version of its Saturday editorial:
At our first deadline reports indicated that the attacks were the work of a jihadist group. Later in the evening evidence emerged that a suspect in the shooting attack on a youth camp was an ethnic Norwegian with no previously known ties to Islamist groups."

Aug. 01 2011 04:38 PM
Mort Moore from The Great Blogosphere

Joe Youngblood:
Actually, OTM did explore the controversy over Loughner's motivations. See and .
You'd have to be much more specific in your charge that the Times' and MSNBC's "editiorialists blamed Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh." Not only that, but this is a story about whitewashing a previous version of an editorial without informing the reader. So...your complaint seems to be quite without merit.

Aug. 01 2011 08:57 AM
Peter from Whitefish Bay, WI

As far as I could see, the WSJ also did not make any correction in its print edition. What is the accepted or usual practice for print editions?

Jul. 31 2011 07:14 PM
Joe Youngblood from , Alaska

Did the New York Times or MSNBC ever issue a correction and apology when its editiorialists blamed Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh for the Loughner massacre in Arizona?

I must have missed the "On the Media" story about that.

Jul. 31 2011 11:33 AM
Francisco from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

If the correction was done in such a way that a casual reader would not even realise it was a correction then it brings to mind the Ministry of Truth in Orwell's 1984.

Then again, what do you expect from a Murdoch publication?

Jul. 31 2011 09:31 AM

Nothing is written in stone. Pencils have erasers because the mortals who write with them commit errors. What the world needs is fewer "corrections trackers."

Jul. 31 2011 05:28 AM
Stourley Kracklite from White Plains

Yet aren't these attacks always justified in the name of one's own kith and kin?

Jul. 30 2011 02:38 PM

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