Best Erratum

"Newspaper rewrites paragraph, reveals possible Castro infiltration of U.S. government radio station"

For reasons unknown it was a banner year for errata brimming with political intrigue, even paranoia. Any number of conspiracy theories spring to mind while reading them. For example an El Nuevo Heraldstory that ran July 20, 2000, reported that fallout from the Elian saga had caused a decline in Republican Party membership in these parts. Wait a minute. That's impossible! Everyone knows the Democrats take their orders from Fidel. The correction, which editors craftily dubbed a "clarification," affirmed that the Democratic Party (you know, Janet Reno's people) suffered the loss.

Another intriguing erratum ran after an article by Miami Herald reporter Elinor J. Brecher this past April contained a curious case of mistaken identity. The story was an account of a Bay of Pigs conference in Cuba that brought together veterans from the revolutionary army and five open-minded members of Brigade 2506, the anti-Castro invasion force. Like the invasion, the story had problems. It reported that a real-life relative of John F. Kennedy, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and Pierre Salinger were among the participants. It should have said Jean Kennedy Smith (JFK's sister) and Richard Goodwin (a JFK advisor) attended. Thanks to operatives deep inside the Knight Ridder organization, Anthony Shriver, who is considering launching a political career in Miami Beach, may have lost the Brigade 2506 vote. Unlike most of its corrections, this one did not include the phrase "The Herald regrets the error." Hmmm.

But the weirdest erratum resulted from an El Nuevo Herald story by Rui Ferreira about Radio Martí, the U.S. government station that broadcasts to Cuba. Angelica Mora, a Chilean journalist, filed a discrimination complaint after station management replaced her with a Cuban-American reporter. The original story read: "According to the testimony of Ramon Cotta -- at the time news director of Radio Martí -- [Office of Cuban Broadcasting director] San Roman [said] that the journalist's departure resulted from suspicions about her professional integrity." For unknown reasons the February 28, 2001, correction presented entirely new information, particularly allegations that the Cuban government had planted stories on Radio Martí and quotes from station employees about an open FBI investigation that was supposed to be kept quiet. "The paragraph that mentions ... Ramon Cotta should have said: “Cotta contacted the office of the Inspector General and reported that San Roman had told him the FBI was conducting an investigation about five reports transmitted by Radio Martí that were planted by the Cuban government. San Roman also told Cotta that Radio Martí employees could be involved in the conspiracy.... San Roman told Cotta not to talk to anyone about the FBI investigation." Oops.

 
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