Corrections

Mark Hemingway takes GetReligion-like stroll through years of New York Times religion gaffes

Mark Hemingway takes GetReligion-like stroll through years of New York Times religion gaffes

There was an interesting op-ed the other day in The New York Post that had a very GetReligion-esque feel to it, to say the least. The headline stated: “New York Times hits new low with mortifying Notre Dame correction.”

Then there was that familiar Hemingway byline.

“Mark Hemingway, that is.”

I realize that I have already written a post about this latest Gray Lady offense against 2,000 years of Christian doctrine, history and language. If you missed that one, click here: “Priest rushes under the flames inside Notre Dame Cathedral to save a ... STATUE of Jesus?” Here is a refresher, care of Hemingway:

… The New York Times later appended this correction to the story: “An earlier version of this article misidentified one of two objects recovered from Notre-Dame by the Rev. Jean-Marc Fournier. It was the Blessed Sacrament, not a statue of Jesus.”

How could the newspaper possibly confuse these two things? The most logical explanation is that Father Fournier referred to the “body of Christ,” and the reporter took his words literally and not seriously. It doesn’t appear to be a translation error; the reporter who wrote the story, Elian Peltier, appears to be fluent in French and tweets in the language regularly.

Why return to this subject?

What Hemingway offers in this short piece is a collection of stunning and, at times, unintentionally hilarious Times errors linked to essential Christian doctrines — including the narrative of Holy Week and Easter. (For Western Christians, this past Sunday was Easter. For Eastern Christians, such as myself, this week is Holy Week and this coming Sunday is Pascha, or Easter.)

Since we are talking about GetReligion basics, let me stress that no one believes that editors at the Times — the world’s most prestigious newspaper — need to BELIEVE these essentials of Christianity. The goal is to understand them well enough to be able to write about them without making embarrassing errors. Try to imagine Times-people making errors like these when dealing with the basics of Judaism, Islam or, for heaven’s sake, the latest Democratic Party platform.

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Priest rushes under the flames inside Notre Dame Cathedral to save a ... STATUE of Jesus?

Priest rushes under the flames inside Notre Dame Cathedral to save a ... STATUE of Jesus?

OK, Catholic readers of GetReligion (and you know who you are), we have a solution to a journalism mystery that many noticed in the wave of coverage following the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral.

The big question raised by The New York Times: What’s the difference between a “statue” of Jesus and a priest carrying the Blessed Sacrament”? Hold that thought.

Let’s start with Father Jean-Marc Fournier, chaplain of the Paris Fire Brigade and one of the heroes of efforts to save what could be saved inside the iconic cathedral. Quite a few people are reporting stories about the actions that he took when it became clear that there was no way to stop the flames in the wooden structures holding up the cathedral roof.

Here’s the top of my “On Religion” column for this week, which led with this angle of the story:

As the flames rushed through Notre Dame Cathedral's wooden rafters -- each beam cut from an individual oak -- a squad of firefighters began a strategic mission.

Their leader was Father Jean-Marc Fournier, chaplain of the Paris Fire Brigade. The goal was to save a crown of thorns that pilgrims have venerated for centuries as part of one worn by the crucified Jesus. King Louis IX brought the relic to Paris in 1238, after receiving it as a gift from the embattled emperor of Constantinople.

Fournier and his firefighters were, according to KTO Catholic Television, able to "save the crown of thorns and the Blessed Sacrament." Forming a human chain, they retrieved as many relics and works of sacred art as they could, until the flames won.

Meanwhile, American television networks solemnly told viewers that "art," "artifacts" and "works of art" had been retrieved from this iconic structure at the heart of Paris. In a major story about the fire, The New York Times noted that Notre Dame Cathedral had "for centuries … enshrined an evolving notion of Frenchness."

So here is a basic religion-beat journalism challenge: How does one describe the “Blessed Sacrament” in a few phrases? Some journalists struggled with that.

For some reporters, the crucial issue was trying to turn “sacraments” and holy relics into “art” and “artifacts.”

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Hey editorial writers in Pittsburgh: Do be careful when attempting to correct Jesus

Hey editorial writers in Pittsburgh: Do be careful when attempting to correct Jesus

As a rule, GetReligion doesn't post critiques of editorials, columns and analysis pieces in mainstream media or religious publications. Now, we may quote them, from time to time. Also, I frequently point readers to "think pieces" that aren't really news, but are linked to important Godbeat topics.

How do you criticize bias in opinion pieces? They're supposed to be biased. How do you criticize advocacy pieces for a lack of balance? They're supposed to advocate a specific side of an issue that the writer or publication thinks is correct. However, we can ask editorials to to be accurate when it comes to facts and quotes. Right?

Thus, a religion-beat veteran sent me a note this week about a really interesting problem in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial that ran with this headline: "The noble gendarme: Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame gave his life for others."

I've been writing about news-media coverage of the Beltrame case all week, as in this post: "Sacrifice in France: 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life ... ' " I also wrote my Universal syndicate column about religious themes in this drama in France.

The editorial in Pittsburgh was interesting, in that it attempted to steer around Beltrame's own Catholic faith, while praising his actions in secular terms. Kind of. Here is the opening of the editorial:

The French, who are under sustained attack by Islamist terrorists, have found a hero in French national police Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame.
On Friday, Lt. Col. Beltrame voluntarily traded places with a woman who was being used as a human shield during an armed assault by a self-proclaimed Islamic State “soldier.”

The piece then added more material about why this case was so important, while avoiding religious facts about Beltrame and his work, his marriage and his life.

Then, at the end, there was this leap into theology:

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Holy Moses! Yet another religion correction for the ages, this one from Wall Street Journal

Holy Moses! Yet another religion correction for the ages, this one from Wall Street Journal

Hey journalists, thou shalt not do this.

Except -- let's be honest -- we really enjoy it when you do.

Regular GetReligion readers know that this journalism-focused website loves to highlight the best -- and by best, we mean worst -- corrections in the world of religion news.

For example, just last month, The Associated Press merited a post when it mistook a comment about "sitting shiva" with "sit and shiver."

And who can forget a few years ago when The Times of London reported that John Paul II was the first non-Catholic pope? They meant first non-Italian pope.

But today's correction for the ages come to us courtesy of the Wall Street Journal and involves Moses -- yes, the one who led the Israelites out of Egypt. 

Here is the correction that quickly went viral on social media:

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A laugh-or-cry correction: In Florida shooting story, AP hears 'sit and shiver' instead of 'sitting shiva'

A laugh-or-cry correction: In Florida shooting story, AP hears 'sit and shiver' instead of 'sitting shiva'

Here at GetReligion, we always enjoy a good correction from the world of religion news. Yes, it's a character flaw for which we probably need to repent.

But who can forget a few years ago when The Times of London reported that John Paul II was the first non-Catholic pope? They meant first non-Italian pope.

Or remember when NPR referred to "the late evangelist Rev. Billy Graham" — a year and a half before he actually died?

Well, now The Associated Press has issued "a correction for the ages," as one Twitter user aptly characterized it.

Here is the correction:

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — In a story Feb. 22 about the Florida school shooting, The Associated Press misquoted Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel in some versions of the story when he spoke about the families of the victims. He said, “I’ve been to their homes where they’re sitting shiva,” not “where they sit and shiver.”

As you might imagine, Twitter has taken notice of AP's mistake:

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UPDATED: MZ's requests for a Planned Parenthood related New York Times correction

UPDATED: MZ's requests for a Planned Parenthood related New York Times correction

The Planned Parenthood fetal-tissue story rolls on in alternative media, with a second undercover video (unedited version here) offering some interesting headline hooks, for those with the stomach to use them.

One key word is "Lamborghini."

The hot phrase for the day is "less crunchy."

Will journalists be willing to interview Planned Parenthood defectors on some of these issues?

A day or so after the first David Daleiden video production surfaced, featuring a Planned Parenthood leader named Dr. Deborah Nucatola, I asked a basic question. If the first reports, mostly in conservative media, were based largely on the press materials circulated by the Center for Medical Progress, I wondered to what degree the mainstream news stories that were eventually published would center on the public-relations DNA of Planned Parenthood.

Now, a website called (C.S. Lewis trigger alert!) TheWardrobeDoor.com has noted an interesting problem at the end of a New York Times report in which Planned Parenthood leaders warn their supporters in Washington, D.C., that more videos are on the way. This passage, featuring Planned Parenthood lawyer Roger K. Evans, is at the very end of the report.

A Biomax representative at least once was admitted by Planned Parenthood employees to “a highly sensitive area in a clinic where tissue is processed after abortion procedures,” Mr. Evans wrote. Another time, a Biomax representative asked about the racial characteristics of tissue provided to researchers; anti-abortion activists have often alleged that Planned Parenthood engages in “genocide” of African-American babies. And Biomax proposed “sham procurement contracts,” offering one clinic $1,600 for a fetal liver and thymus, Mr. Evans said.
In the video, Dr. Nucatola says that clinics charge $30 to $100 for a specimen. Mr. Evans, in his letter, noted that she also said 10 times during a two-and-a-half-hour lunch that the charges were for expenses, not profit. But, he added, those statements were not included in the initial nine-minute video. Mr. Daleiden released what he called the full recording last week after Planned Parenthood complained of selective, misleading editing.

So what is the problem?

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