By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Payback time for Couric

“CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric rips New York Times television critic Alessandra Stanley for her error-riddled tribute to Walter Cronkite. As the Huffington Post observes, Couric must have enjoyed herself, as Stanley has been one of her tormenters. (Thanks to WBUR’s Steve Brown.)

Stanley’s butchery led me to make an error in my Guardian piece this week, as I relied her piece in asserting that Cronkite did not overcome NBC’s “Huntley-Brinkley Report” in the ratings until Chet Huntley retired, in 1970. We’re supposed to run a correction, but it hasn’t been posted yet.

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Gates comments now closed


A couple of Gates-related odds and ends


  1. lkcape

    Sorry Dan. You made the error, Ms. Stanley didn't lead you to or make you do it.You relied on second-, maybe even third- or fourth-hand information.Not good form to pass your error off on another, even though they were in error, too.Sloppy research on your part, and nothing to do with Ms. Stanley.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Ikcape: My column for the Guardian is a blog. I make no apology for linking to the New York Times.

  3. lkcape

    How would you have treated such a reference from a student in one of his papers?Your correction of the error was admirable. Your statement that Ms. Stanley led you to make the error is not.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Ikcape: How would I have treated a student who referenced the Times, and the Times proved to be in error? What do you think? You correct it and move on. It's not a big deal.You have to consider the source. One thing I teach my students, for instance, is that even though studies show the Britannica is no less likely to be in error than Wikipedia, you want to cite the Britannica and not Wikipedia because of their differences in reputation.An error in the Britannica or the New York Times means never having to say you're sorry. I'm not sorry.

  5. WaytooTall19

    Dan,How does a reporter who works for the NYT manage to keep her job after a long history of whopper errors she had made?Her most recent mistakes could have been research with a simple Google search.

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Waytoo: She's a critic, not strictly a reporter, and she's a very clever and entertaining writer. But yeah. Pretty incredible, isn't it?

  7. lkcape

    My point was Dan, that you should not blame someone else for your error. And since you are paid for the work you do, I would think that checking facts would be de rigeur.As we well know, even King Arthur's mighty rag makes its share of errors.Your phrasing is much akin to the excuse: "She made me do it!"Again your admission of error is admirable; your transferring of responsibility is not

  8. Nial Liszt

    **An error in the Britannica or the New York Times means never having to say you're sorry.**The Corrections section in the NYT almost needs its own editor. I count eleven in tomorrow's (7/26) paper.

  9. NewsHound

    Dan – I understand and agree clearly with your position.I know of a case where the police would read the blotter to the reporter and provided the name and address of a person arrested. The arrest records were taken from the station to Court at the time and the officer, thinking of another person with the same name in the town, provided the address of an innocent person. The newspaper published the information as provided by the police.Subsequently, the newspaper was sued. The advice from NEPA and attorney was that the newspaper was ultimately responsible if the information was incorrect, even if and even though it was reported as provided by the police.The innocent person though, had a long history of violations and claimed he was bad enough already without taking the blame for someone else.

  10. Dan Kennedy

    NewsHound: Interesting. What we teach in media law is that a private person can't win a libel case unless he can show that reporting about him was false, defamatory and involved negligence on the part of the news organization.Generally speaking, a plaintiff can't show negligence if a police department has been reliable in the past. But if there had been previous incidents of the police providing incorrect information, then it may well be negligent to rely solely on the police in the future.

  11. L.K.

    Clark Hoyt's column this week in the Times re the errors in a Cronkite obituary:"…Looking back at it all — a critic making mistakes in haste, editors failing to vet her work enough, a story sitting for weeks without attention and then being rushed through — one sees how small missteps lead to big trouble, leaving readers to wonder what they can trust." that accuracy in facts, and the rigorous checking theerof, is deemed to be an issue of credibility, both for the journalist and for the publication.How say you, Dan?

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