Monday, October 01, 2012

My disappointment with The Guardian

I know it's only a small thing, but for academics, the details do matter.  I have always praised the way that The Guardian, my favourite paper for many years, tries to correct errors in its articles when they are pointed out.

So when The Guardian's article on the Jesus Wife Fragment was published, I noted that it featured several errors, notably:
There are three errors in the piece; (1) "Karen King from Harvard university holds the papyrus fragment that has four words written in Coptic, which are believed to prove Jesus was married".  She does not believe that these prove that Jesus was married.  Rather, she holds that some Christians believe that this was the case in the second half of the second century.  The fragment has a lot more than "four words" too.  (2) In the second half of the article, Francis Watson is called "Martin" by mistake. (3) In Secret Mark, it is not correct that "Jesus spent the night with naked youths"; he spends the night, of the duration of this passage at least, with just one naked youth.
I also wrote to The Guardian, pointing out these errors.  I received an acknowledgement and then nothing.  Over a week later, all the errors are still present.

I know that it is naive of me to have expected The Guardian to make the requisite changes.  I know that it's not a big deal.  Heck, it's not like they plagiarized an obituary.  But I still can't help being disappointed.  It's the horrible realization that their claims to correct errors in a timely fashion, as soon as they are pointed out, is as worthless as a politician's pledge.  I wonder how often this happens?


6 comments:

AKMA said...

We are talking about the Grauniad, here, Mark;carelessness is not unprecedented.

David Mackinder said...

Sounds like a case for 'The Readers' Editor' -- http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/page/readerseditor. Note, though, that they've made a partial correction; see http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/series/correctionsandclarifications, entry for Sunday 23 September 2012.

Stephen Carlson said...

There's a reason why newspapers are called the "first draft of history."

Mark Goodacre said...

Agreed, AKMA; but I was seduced by the fact that they publish regular corrections. I had always assumed that if I pointed some out, I'd get a change too.

Mark Goodacre said...

Good idea about the Reader's Editor, David -- thanks.

The correction you mention was to a different article, though it's good to see that they did that.

Mark Goodacre said...

Nice one, Stephen.