An incredible correction from the New York Times about children and covid.
today at 2:09 pm
At least the reporter spelled her name correctly. Grade: F-
Never have I seen so many horrifying mistakes made in a single story as those that appeared in this New York Times report: “A New Vaccine Strategy for Children: Just One Dose, for Now.”
One sample: The story originally said that 900,000 American children had been hospitalized since the beginning of the Covid pandemic. That actual number is 63,000, from August 2020 to October 2021.
Oops. Just a little outside.
No need to explain how the misinformation (often attributed to right-wing publications) about the impact of the virus on children can skewer the entire debate–in favor of more of the suffocating restrictions favored by Democratic demagogues. Jeez, 900,000 children crowding America’s hospitals; we need to close the classrooms again and subject children to that suffocating remote learning.
But this is just one of the mistakes. If you knew where to look, you’d find this correction buried at the bottom of the story (and not in the usual place you’d look for corrections):
Correction: Oct. 7, 2021
An earlier version of this article incorrectly described actions taken by regulators in Sweden and Denmark. They have halted use of the Moderna vaccine in children; they have not begun offering single doses. The article also misstated the number of Covid hospitalizations in U.S. children. It is more than 63,000 from August 2020 to October 2021, not 900,000 since the beginning of the pandemic. In addition, the artcle misstated the timing of an F.D.A. meeting on authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children. It is later this month, not next week.
None of these are minor errors. Just one of them would earn an F in journalism school–at least in the old school. A semi-conscious copy editor would have, or should have, noticed that 600,000 is a challengeable number. Did anyone call her on it? Did she defend it?
The New York Times has dropped a ton of bricks on its people for much less. Recall how James Bennet resigned as the New York Times opinion editor after he ran an op-ed by Senator Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, calling for a stronger response (“an overwhelming show of force”) to last summer’s riots. His position was arguable, but it was so roundly condemned by the publisher down to the woke mob in the newsroom that Bennet had no choice but to resign.
This latest example of atrocious, amateur reporting was provided by one Apoorva Mandavilli, whom the paper describes as someone who focuses “on science and global health. She is the 2019 winner of the Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting.” Of course.
One must now raise the question: Were the “errors” the result of incompetence, carelessness or bias? We’ll probably never know because as someone working for the vaunted New York Times, she fits all the requirements–meaning she isn’t conservative. Observe the rest of her biography:
She is the founding editor in chief of Spectrum, an award-winning news site on autism science that grew an audience of millions. She led the team there for 13 years. She joined The Times in May 2020, after two years as a regular contributor.
Ms. Mandavilli has won numerous awards for her writing. Her work has been published in The Atlantic, Slate and The New Yorker online, and in the anthology ”Best American Science and Nature Writing.”She co-founded Culture Dish, an organization dedicated to enhancing diversity in science journalism, and was the founding chair of the Diversity Committee for the National Association of Science Writers.
Ms. Mandavilli has a Master of Arts degree in journalism from New York University and a Master of Science degree in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is fluent in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada.
You might wonder how someone with those qualifications would load a story with such a parade of blunders, errors or–some will say–lies. More pointedly, why is Mandavillie still working for the paper?
Bennett’s non-error (for which he apologized in front of an “all-staff” meeting, ye gods) drew this condemnation: Publisher A. G. Sulzberger called the Bennett affair “a significant breakdown in our editing processes….” Of Bennett, he said, “Both of us concluded that James would not be able to lead the team through the next leg of change that is required.” Should we guess what the change is?
So, what about the editing process that Sulzberger mentioned? How did it blow past Mandavilli’s more serious errors? Will there be a painful examination of how a star reporter could get away with this? Will there be a house-cleaning? Will Mandavilli show up in front of the entire staff and apologize? Will the staff even care?
And this: Will the current crop of “journalists” recognize the seriousness of what happened at America’s most honored and adored newspaper? The Poynter Institute, the self-assigned ethical voice of journalism, has yet to mention it. I won’t stay tuned waiting for it.
Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.