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The "Miracle At Sago" That Wasn't

Editor & Publisher is doing post mortems on the print media meltdown in the wake of the tragedy at the Sago mine in West Virginia. They call it "one of the most disturbing media performances of its kind in recent years." Some editors attempt to explain themselves in another E&P piece.

Wizbang, along with tons of other blogs, using information from the cable news networks and AP got the story wrong as well. Without "boots on the ground" we're in no position to do source verification on a story like this. At Wizbang we don't kill stories once published, but we did add updates and the change in the story was noted in the comment section while we slept. Bloggers examining the media failure from all angles; Rodger Morrow provides a pretty good thesis on the genesis of the Miracle story, West Virginian John Cole fills in additional details from the overnight hours, while Michelle Malkin thinks that the International Coal Group has a lot to answer for.

For the record, here's a partial scoreboard of who got it right and who got it wrong in print (via Fark, with corrections). Some links lead to PDF's, and most will go stale tomorrow. Since Newseum doesn't archive front pages (except for certain occasions) I'll be adding screen grabs of the major papers to a new collection at the Wizbang Photo Gallery, in case the newspapers try to revise history. If you'd like to contribute, e-mail me a JPEG of the front page of any listed site, cropped to show (at a minimum) the top fold of the front page.

Wrong Headlines:

USA Today
New York Times Front Page
Washington Post Front Page
LA Times Front Page
Chicago Tribune Front Page
Boston Globe Front Page
Dallas Morning News Front Page
San Francisco Chronicle Front Page
Atlanta Journal Constitution Front Page
Baltimore Sun Front Page
Twin Cities Pioneer Press Front Page
Arizona Republic Front Page
San Antonio Express Front Page
Houston Chronicle Front Page
St. Louis Post-Dispatch Front Page
Miami Herald Front Page
Nashville Tennessean Front Page
Cincinnati Enquirer Front Page
Indy Star Front Page
FW Star Telegram Front Page
Toledo Blade Front Page
Charleston Gazette Front Page
Dominion Post Front Page
San Jose Mercury Front Page

Right Headlines:

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Front Page
Seattle Times Front Page
Detroit Free Press Front Page
Denver Post Front Page
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Front Page
Honolulu Advertiser Front Page
Anchorage Daily News Front Page

Corrected Print Editions:

New York Post Front Page
New York Daily News Front Page
San Jose Mercury Front Page

Additional Front Pages



Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The "Miracle At Sago" That Wasn't:

» This isn’t writing, it’s typing. linked with How the press got the "Miracle at Sago" wrong

» Donkey Stomp linked with Family Members Let Down

» Right Thoughts...not right wing, just right. linked with The West Virgina mining disaster

» Arguing with signposts... linked with Collecting the big "oops"

» Random Yak linked with Foregone, Not Forgotten.

» The Sago Mine Disaster And The Lawyers linked with The Sago Mine Disaster And The Lawyers

Comments (23)

You can add the Philadelphi... (Below threshold)

You can add the Philadelphia Inquirer to the list of who got it wrong. Front page headline in the morning edition: "Joy at mine: 12 are alive."

For what it is worth, it lo... (Below threshold)
Rick Caird:

For what it is worth, it looks like the ones getting it right were west coast (except Pittsburgh) and the ones wrong were east coast. Time differences probably explain it.


Detroit News got it right: ... (Below threshold)

Detroit News got it right: "Rescuers find body in W. Virginia Mine."

Actually, the Seattle PI ra... (Below threshold)

Actually, the Seattle PI ran a corrected front page after printing it the wrong way. Both versions are still available at the link (click on Regret).

The Orange County Register ... (Below threshold)
OC Chuck:

The Orange County Register got it right. What happened with the LA Times, being in the same time zone?

Orlando Sentinel got it wro... (Below threshold)

Orlando Sentinel got it wrong too.

Add The Cleveland Plain Dea... (Below threshold)

Add The Cleveland Plain Dealer to the wrong column.

You need to correct yoursel... (Below threshold)

You need to correct yourself: The San Jose Murky News did *not* get it right. Their print edition for this morning, still on the stands, has a big headline talking about the "Miracle" and how all the miners were found alive.

They fixed the PDF and afternoon editions. But the truth is out there, and that truth is a screw-up.

There was at least <a href... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

There was at least one reporter of a local paper who remained skeptical when the first news spread, that duped her more esteemed national journalists.

Pressure to be first with t... (Below threshold)

Pressure to be first with the story is inevitably going to lead to mistakes. That's why fact-checking is more critical now than ever before. Unfortunately, with the current emphasis on emotive reporting, checking the facts gets in the way of the entertainment value of current news.

I'm pretty confident that the print media, after seeing the same story being reported on TV (i.e., "miracle") felt they'd done enough. But clearly TV cannot be relied upon for all stories.

A shot of 12 men walking out of a mine--even carried out--would have been adequate. But confirmation in this story wasn't visible immediately, so they went with hearsay. They were hearing the wrong saying and didn't bother to check it.

Not to exonnerate anyone, b... (Below threshold)

Not to exonnerate anyone, but you'll note that most of the papers that got it right had later deadlines because they were in later time zones.
East Coast papers - which go to bed around midnight, 1 a.m. at the very latest - got creamed.

I suspect it's more likely ... (Below threshold)

I suspect it's more likely that many of them ran with wire stories. Unless they have reporters on the scene, how can you fault those papers for running with what the news service gives them?

I'm not saying every publication should be let off the hook here,but a quick look at most of the papers you claimed "got it wrong" showed that they either carried a wire story or properly attributed the news.

And by the way, I know you love to bash the Globe, but the headline on the Globe you linked to says "12 Miners Reportedly Found Alive." And the lead in the story attributes the news to reports from family members. What part of that was wrong?

FYI, the print version of t... (Below threshold)

FYI, the print version of the LA Times (IE Edition) that was on my doorstep this morning ran with the corrected headline.

" People make Mistakes, it ... (Below threshold)

" People make Mistakes, it is time to mourn the dead and comfort the living."

As much as I love to pile o... (Below threshold)

As much as I love to pile on the media, I'm hard put to blame any newspapers for following the lead of their peers on the ground in West Virginia. My hometown paper, the Mobile Register, was erroneous in the headline, but I would have been wrong too had I listened to the other news outlets before going to press.


Steve C. throws a three poi... (Below threshold)

Steve C. throws a three pointer! Great link and sound information about confirming the story in the small town paper article. Recommended to anyone wanting to post or get the inside story so far.

Our wonderfully unbiased and unprejudiced West Coast Paper, the Oregonian, also ran the wrong story in its Morning Edition.

But the Headline was about ... (Below threshold)

But the Headline was about Abramoff and the pending demise of the GOP.

I hadn't seen the incorrect... (Below threshold)

I hadn't seen the incorrect version of the Charleston Gazette until I looked at the picture over on Rick Lee's site. Both of the headlines I saw were technically correct. One reported that a body was found near the site of the blast (Body of Miner Found) and the other reported the twelve deaths (Only 1 Survives).

Looks like the Gazette has replaced the incorrect pdf you're linking to there, by the way.

Hey guys, your galle... (Below threshold)

Hey guys,
your gallery is having issues. the error message is below:
Precondition Failed
The precondition on the request for the URL /gallery/ evaluated to false.
Apache/1.3.34 Server at www.wizbangblog.com Port 80

love your work btw.

Someone beat me to the punc... (Below threshold)

Someone beat me to the punchline, but the later time zones clearly had an advantage as far as getting corrected information.

Of course, if you'll watch the Geraldo footage from FOX News, he runs up to a family member and asks "who told you they were alive?" and the woman had no answer.

I think the reporters on the ground fumbled the ball here. They need to verify information with proper officials, and clearly, that wasn't done as it should have been after the initial euphoria.

You know, much as I would l... (Below threshold)

You know, much as I would love to bash the MSM this story is just tragic and I don't think you can blame the media on this. Sure, they got the initial story wrong, but it was only 3 hours before it was corrected. Anyone watching the live press coverage would have the celebration bursting out of the church and thought the same thing.

This isn't like Rathergate....they didn't make up the news and unlike Katrina there was follow up and correction.

Put it this way, I don't think if 100 bloggers had been there live blogging the event it would have gone down any different.

I think a lot of the reaction is because we'd like to lay blame for the deaths on someone. I just don't think it should be placed on the media this time around. They're ignorant putzs, don't get me wrong, but had the scenario been reveresed no one would be saying anything about the media getting it wrong. They'd be too happy about the survivors.

Leave the blame-game for the real question--what caused the explosion? Was it negligence? A pure accident? Sabotage? Act of God? Those are the real questions that need investigation...not who started a rumor...

I had to put two quarters i... (Below threshold)

I had to put two quarters in the potty mouth jar last night. One "Holy s%&*!" when they reported that 12 miners were alive, and a "HOLT S&^%!!!!!!!" when Donna Fiducia came on with the bad news.

<a href="http://www.lsj.com... (Below threshold)


Lansing State Journal - Wrong






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