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Biggest correction ever?





Every journalist makes a mistake every now and then--and it's incredibly frustrating. (I speak from personal experience.) Recent case in point: David Barstow's small error in his fine NY Times expose of Pentagon military-analyst manipulation, which will now be noted forever in cyberspace.

Rarely, though, do we make as many many mistakes in one place as the unfortunate Robert Berkvist did in his recent Times obituary for Charlton Heston. Here's a run-down of the corrections that piece has prompted so far:

Correction: April 7, 2008
A front-page obituary and a headline in some editions on Sunday about the actor Charlton Heston misstated his age and the year of his birth. He was 84, not 83, and was born in 1923, not 1924.

Correction: April 9, 2008
An obituary in some editions on Sunday and in some copies on Monday about the actor Charlton Heston misstated his given name at birth. It was John Charles Carter, not Charlton Carter. The obituary also referred incorrectly to the character played by Orson Welles in the film “Touch of Evil,” in which Mr. Heston had a starring role. The character, Quinlan, is a police captain, not a sheriff. And a list of Mr. Heston’s films accompanying the obituary on Monday misstated the relationship between two characters in the film “Midway,” in which Mr. Heston played a Naval officer. The characters, the officer’s son and a woman of Japanese descent, are hoping to marry; they are not already married.

Correction: April 22, 2008
An obituary on April 7 and in some copies on April 6 about the actor Charlton Heston misstated the year he enlisted in the Army Air Forces, as well as other aspects of his life. He enlisted in 1942, not 1944. He served in the Aleutian Islands about two years, not three. And he and his wife, the former Lydia Clarke, an actress, spent less than one year, not several seasons, at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Theater in Asheville, N.C., which they founded after the war.


Ouch.

If it's any consolation for Berkvist, he's in good company.


P.S.--Appopriately enough, right after posting, I started questioning my use of the term "biggest." The Heston corrections may be the most protracted ever. But though they keep on comin', they're not as bad as they could be in terms of sheer awfulness. This is.

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