| Thursday, December 06, 2007
Posted by The Dean of Cincinnati
Photo courtesy of here.
The following timeline demonstrates how difficult it can be to get a perfectly clear answer to a simple question, which is unfortunate when the subject is the reliability of our local election system as well as our local mainstream media. For several weeks, we have been following the story about what went wrong with The Enquirer’s reporting about election night delays. Now, we have answers from several involved parties, but the responses still don’t add up.
Here are some chronologically presented facts:
Fact 1: After the election, Howard Wilkinson wrote a story entitled “Slow vote count meant long night for Hamilton County.” At some point in the story’s history, the following line appeared: “When the chips were fed into the machines at the board of elections, they were giving false readings, Burke said.”
Fact 2: John Williams, Director of Elections at the BOE, denied that there was a problem with the chips. He told The Beacon: “Mr. Burke has spoken with Mr. Wilkinson about this issue. Howard agreed that their discussion related to the procedures used on election night for proper press reporting not any defect in the memory cards.”
Fact 3: The Beacon tried to ask Wilkinson about the reporting, and he did not respond to repeated inquiries.
Fact 4: Tim Burke said the following: “No, I did not say that to Howard and if you ask him I believe he will confirm that. I talked to him about this some time after the article ran and he confirmed to me that I didn’t say that and explained that an editor incorrectly edited his writing resulting in the inaccurate statement.”
Fact 5: After not hearing from The Enquirer, we contacted Barbara Henry, who provides oversight to The Enquirer. She said that either Margaret Buchanan or Tom Callinan would respond to my inquiry.
Fact 6: After a few days, I sent Buchanan and Callinan an email (copied to Henry), outlining the quotes provided above.
Fact 7: Tom Callinan provided this explanation: “I’ve asked Executive Editor Hollis Towns about this and it appears the paragraph in question appeared only briefly on our web site during incremental update reporting for online. It was a paraphrase incorrectly understood by a rewrite person in the office. The error was quickly spotted and fixed in the online story. It never appeared in print.”
Fact 8: After reading the phrase that the story “appeared briefly on our web site,” and that it was “quickly spotted and fixed in the online story,” I went online to see how the story appeared. I took a screenshot (below) with my mouse pointed over the date so you could see that, as of yesterday, the story still appears online with the phrase in question—despite Callinan claiming the online article was changed weeks ago.
For a larger view, click here.
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