Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Had to happen to somebody ...

... and give or take a slip of a finger, it could have been you:

A front-page story in some editions Monday incorrectly referred to Osama bin Laden as Obama.

Are there worse things you can do in covering this event than typos? Well, sure. As noted elsewhere, you could tumble for a basic fallacy of logic. Worse, you could be indulgent toward columnists who, despite an evident shortage of clues, seem to think their thoughts on the matter are relevant. It's early days yet, but so far young Ross Douthat is looking like a champion:

I moved to Washington, D.C., a year after the twin towers fell, and there was a touch of London during the blitz in the way that people carried themselves in those days.

Ross? I don't think so.

At least he's on the op-ed page, though. The top teaser on the front of the Freep's 12-page special section is ... aw, you peeked! It's Mitch:

Osama bin Laden, shot in the head by a highly trained group of Navy Seals on Sunday, was not the world's first terrorist.

He won't be the last.

And you probably have a hometown version of the What The Country Needs column in the toy department.

We shouldn't care about sports as much, but we need them more than we ever did.

The Grauniad mantra is worth recalling here: Opinion is free, facts are sacred (Ross Douthat might want to look at this tally of damage on Sept. 7, 1940, if for no other reason than the utter coolness of a data blog whose subtitle is "facts are sacred"). The flip side is that opinions are often worth exactly what you pay for 'em. News organizations might want to think twice before letting their experts cut loose on What It All Means. Opinion is free, but newsprint is costly.

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