Spot the Difference

This item is brought to you by the Dept. of Non-Correction Corrections.

1) David Sanger and Nazila Fathi, “Iran Test-Fires Missile With 1,200-Mile Range “:, _New York Times,_ May 21, 2009:

bq.. Though she avoided details, Mrs. Clinton was giving voice to a growing concern among administration officials, who have now had time to review the intelligence, that Iran seems to have made significant progress in at least two of the three technologies necessary to field an effective nuclear weapon.

The first is enriching uranium to weapons grade, now under way at the large nuclear complex at Natanz.

p. 2) David Sanger, “Despite Crisis, Policy on Iran Is Engagement”:, _New York Times,_ July 6, 2009:

bq. Israeli officials have been deeply uncomfortable with Mr. Obama’s engagement offer, arguing that Iran is still adding centrifuges to its plant at Natanz, where it can enrich uranium. The last report of the International Atomic Energy Agency indicated roughly 7,000 centrifuges are now enriching uranium into fuel, but without further enrichment it is suitable only for nuclear power.

Way back in ’04, Daniel Okrent, who was at the time public editor of the _New York Times,_ did readers the signal service of defining and explaining “the rowback”: What he wrote then applies just as well today:

bq. The editors who decided to handle the clarification this way may not know the term, but this was a classic example of the rowback. The one definition I could find for this ancient technique, from journalism educator Melvin Mencher, describes a rowback as “a story that attempts to correct a previous story without indicating that the prior story had been in error or without taking responsibility for the error.” A less charitable definition might read, “a way that a newspaper can cover its butt without admitting it was ever exposed.”

For previous commentary on the May 21 story, see “here”: and “here”:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *