E&P buries correction on Mitchell’s rewritten column from 2003

posted at 12:08 pm on August 28, 2006 by Allahpundit

It’s appended to the beginning of Mitchell’s archived column at Media Info, where only the few thousand people who have been following this story on right-wing blogs will ever see it.

No mention whatsoever at E&P that I can find. At least, not as of this writing.

To recap, as Rick Ellensburg might say: the editor of Editor & Publishing has been accused of altering a three-year-old archived copy of a column he wrote in which he admitted making up quotes for a news story when he was a 19-year-old intern. He’s also been accused of misrepresenting his age and employment status when he did that.

Here’s the sum total of E&P’s response thus far:

CORRECTION, August 27, 2006: Several readers of the 2003 story below have informed us that the water flowing over Niagara Falls was turned off in June 1969, not in 1967, as the article below stated. We have corrected or deleted that date and Mitchell’s age where they appeared in this column. Mitchell worked at the Gazette in the summers of 1968 and 1969 before graduating from college in 1970. The incident recounted below occurred in his second summer at the paper, not in the first, as the original had it.

That answers Dan Riehl’s charge, but it sure doesn’t answer Confederate Yankee’s. Are they actually going to ignore an accusation that the editor of the industry’s leading trade publication is rewriting his old articles on the sly in response to criticism?

Let’s wait until the end of the day to see. Even Mitchell can’t be that shameless.

If you’re keeping score, there have now been three ledes to that 2003 column. Here was the original, according to CY:

Since the press seems to be in full-disclosure mode these days, I want to finally come clean. Back when I worked for the Niagara Falls (N.Y.) Gazette (now the Niagara Gazette), our city editor asked me to find out what tourists thought about an amazing local event: Engineers had literally “turned off” the famous cataracts, diverting water so they could shore up the crumbling rock face. Were visitors disappointed to find a trickle rather than a roar? Or thrilled about witnessing this once-in-a-lifetime stunt?

Here’s what it looked like after Mr. X rewrote it on Friday to emphasize Mitchell’s youth and inexperience at the time he committed his journalistic sin — again, according to CY:

Since the press seems to be in full-disclosure mode these days, I want to finally come clean. Back in 1967, when I was 19 and worked for the Niagara Falls (N.Y.) Gazette (now the Niagara Gazette) as a summer intern, our city editor asked me to find out what tourists thought about an amazing local event: Engineers had literally “turned off” the famous cataracts, diverting water so they could shore up the crumbling rock face. Were visitors disappointed to find a trickle rather than a roar? Or thrilled about witnessing this once-in-a-lifetime stunt?

Emphases CY’s. Here’s what it looks like now. Emphases mine:

Since the press seems to be in full-disclosure mode these days, I want to finally come clean. Back when I worked for the Niagara Falls (N.Y.) Gazette (now the Niagara Gazette) as a summer intern, our city editor asked me to find out what tourists thought about an amazing local event: Engineers had literally “turned off” the famous cataracts, diverting water so they could shore up the crumbling rock face. Were visitors disappointed to find a trickle rather than a roar? Or thrilled about witnessing this once-in-a-lifetime stunt?

The fact that Mitchell was a summer intern at the time had been mentioned in the original column — but further down in the piece. Bloggers were only blockquoting the lede. So Mr. X moved the fact that he was an intern up top.

And now, apparently, E&P has signed off on it.

Mary K rounds up the whole scandal in her column today. Read it now, because the brooms are out and the corner of the carpet’s being lifted. Check out this podcast by Ed Driscoll, too; it’s a roundtable discussion with Glenn Reynolds, Charles Johnson, and Dean Barnett about the fallout from Reutersgate. The episode with Mitchell isn’t mentioned but it’s right on point.

Update: Mary K’s going to try to interview Mitchell about this.

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Maybe I’m way off the map here, but to me the real story here seems to be that in the very first “draft” of the article Greg Mitchell implied that he worked at the Niagara Falls Gazette as a full-time editor/journalist in a responsible position an unspecified amount of time ago that nonetheless made the experience be seared, seared in his memory.

Whereas in actual fact he was an inexperienced rookie, it was a long time ago, and he wasn’t nowhere near the relevant food-chain of the paper. All of which directly contradicts the initial implications.

“When I was facility manager at a large investment bank in Manhattan …”

Later: “I helped an old lady open the door to the ATM.”

Correction: “I … err, he didn’t mean to say he worked at that bank the ATM belongs to. He meant to say he has an account at some other bank than the lady, but still, can you prove that he doesn’t work at that investment firm? There.”

So the question is – which essential details does Mr Greg Mitchell happen to omit every once in a while?

Niko on August 28, 2006 at 12:26 PM

A little satire on the subject seems prudent at this juncture:

As the great progressive leader Joseph Stalin may have said, “It’s not what really happens, it’s what we write about it that matters.” We can never underestimate the importance of proper screening of individuals who narrate history for the masses – from news services and talk shows to school teachers and entertainers. To our credit we have a firm grip on all of the above.

It seems our media, from fauxtography to the NYT to the movies, is becoming quite adept at Historical Revisionism:

Historical Revisionism is the reexamination of historical facts, with an eye towards updating historical narratives with newly discovered, more accurate, or less biased information, acknowledging that history of an event, as it has been traditionally told, may not be entirely accurate.

This is not to be confused with the more nuanced and politically expedient “Futuristic Revisionism.”

NTWR on August 28, 2006 at 1:25 PM

Is it just me, or are E&P and Mitchell still having trouble reconciling their years?

Niagara Falls was turned off in June 1969, not in 1967, as the article below stated. We have corrected or deleted that date and Mitchell’s age where they appeared in this column. Mitchell worked at the Gazette in the summers of 1968 and 1969 before graduating from college in 1970. The incident recounted below occurred in his second summer at the paper, not in the first, as the original had it.

flip on August 28, 2006 at 3:07 PM