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November 12, 2003


Michael P

Who, no doubt, introduced Mr. Wilson to his kitchen cabinet


One wonders whether the increasing instances of ignorance and/or illiteracy in public bodies with previous traditions of high standards are due to a general fall in educational standards or to an obsession with 'representation' which means that 'under-represented' groups, no matter how good the reasons for that 'under-representation', are recruited anyway (and probably in any old way) just to make the figures look good.

Franco Alemán

they changed it, already. But hey, if you read some Spanish newspapers, that would be everyday's stuff. The other day, Barcelona's leading newspaper was referring to Karl Popper and John Stewart Miller... and a few days earlier, another one made a whole column about General MacArthur's Witch Hunt. And they repeated it several times in the column.

Would have been worse to call him Senator McDonalds, I admit it.


I think it's partially the continual pressure of 24 hour news media, to get the story available as quickly as possible, that results in this kind of mistake. On the other hand, there is also a much larger community of nit pickers and fact checkers, which means we're far more aware of these mistakes (because we are informed by others in our huge, drip-feeding social network).

Back in the old days (when I were just a lad, and there were no trouble down't pit) newspapers drove the media cycle - and mistakes were still made very, very regularly, despite the fact that they had all day to get their copy so clean that it sparkled. Now, if anything, newspapers are at the back of the queue.

Standards have slipped, I think, because there is so much pressure to get the story first, and many organisations have begun to value speed (by which I mean seconds and minutes, not hours) as highly as, if not more than, accuracy.

Not that I'm making an excuses for somebody mixing up Wilson and Wyatt (I never realised the Voice Of Reason was so influential in US politics), but I do think this is part of a largera change in medialand that we're still not quite used to, but yet we remain enthralled by the scoop, the exclusive, the breaking story.

David Gillies

Presumably that puts the fragrant Petronella in the same camp as Chelsea Clinton and Amy Carter. Ye Gods and little fishes.

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