Operation Correction


Here is some news for you, journalists are human beings… Therefore, they make mistakes.

Announcing someone’s death when they’re alive, getting a name or a figure wrong… they are all very easy mistakes to make. The problem is that journalists’ main goal should be to get the information right.

Getting a wrong information on a newspaper article or a TV or radio newscast can cause a lot of trouble.

How much would you like to read in your town’s newspaper that you’re dead or that you got arrested by the police, when that’s in fact not you?

Anyway… I don’t have a recent example to give you but I am going to go back in time to January 2015.

On January 7, 2015, 3 men shot several Charlie Hebdo journalists and other people in a store in Paris. But how many people were killed?

There are 2 main trends… Some news article say 12, others 17…

I read in the Boston Globe the other day that “three homegrown extremists killed 17 people in and around Paris,” in French search home of beheading suspecton June 28, 2015.

The Globe doesn’t mention its source for this number so I couldn’t verify it.

I decided to search on Google what the French news organizations said about that number… Turns out that most of them say that 12 people were killed even several weeks after the attacks.

For instance, in February 15, 2015, France Bleu talk about 12 people killed. “Le Premier ministre Manuel Valls a rapproché cette attaque de celle de Charlie Hebdo qui avait fait 12 morts le 7 janvier dernier à Paris,” in Fusillades à Copenhague: deux morts, un suspect abattu.

But in January 10, 2015, La République des Pyrénées, states that 17 people were killed by the terrorists in Attentats en France : 20 morts dont les trois terroristes.

None of the articles I read mention any sources for the number of deaths… so I asked Alex Turnbull, journalist who wrote the Globe article, were he found that number to make sure that had the right one. I contacted him via Twitter.

Here is my message to Alex:

Hi. Just read your article on French attacks and wonder where you found that Charlie Hebdo attacks made 17 dead. DM me please.”

Unfortunately, he hasn’t tweeted back yet.


Photo credit: Dan Mason, Ethics. Creative Commons – Some Rights Reserved.



How to qualify Bill Cosby’s deviances

On the side of Ben's Chili Bowl

The Associated Press exposed Bill Cosby after he admitted to have sedated women in order to have sex with them.

Maryclaire Dale is the AP reporter who broke the story and she faced a tough ethical question… Can she say in her article that Bill Cosby committed sexual assaults?

She decided not to. Poynter Media Wire asked her why and here is her answer.

“We have such small excerpts, we don’t have any follow-up questions, everybody can interpret that the way that makes sense to them,” Dale said.

She also said in the Rachel Maddow Show that, “The snippets of the depositions that we have tonight certainly don’t show whether the sexual assault allegations are true, but they do show that Cosby acknowledges that he used Quaaludes in the course of sex…what’s left unresolved is whether they knew they were using them recreationally or otherwise.”

This cases raises many ethical questions.

  • What to call Bill Cosby?
  • Should the name of the allege victim be revealed?
  • What details to include or not in the story?
  • How to qualify certain acts while covering a sexual assault story?

For the latter, Poynter warns journalists to be careful with the choice of vocabulary while describing sexual assaults facts. “Keep in mind that sexual assault isn’t sex, it’s violence. If you decide to include relevant details, use the correct terminology. Someone who is sexually assaulted isn’t kissing, for example, she’s forced to put her mouth on the assailant’s mouth,” Lauren Klinger wrote for Poynter.

In my opinion, Dale and the AP did a great job trying to get the facts rights and not accusing Bill Cosby of anything that Justice hasn’t proven yet. Dale also had the courtesy to ask the allege victim if she could use her name even if the victim’s name was all over the news already.

I think that Dale succeed in making good ethical choices.

Photo credit: Ted Eytan, Bill Cosby Mural, Washington, DC 49758. Some Rights Reserved.

More security for the Boston Marathon

Next Monday is Marathon Monday in Boston and its surrounding towns.

While the Tsarnaev trial is still going on and is reminding everyone of the 2013 wounds, it is important to keep the area secured.

In Drones Banned, But Few Other Changes To Boston Marathon Security Despite MEMA Report, for WGBH, Rupa Shenoy explained what the new security measures.

Shenoy did a great job in her radio program. She gathered quotes from key people, such as Kurt Schwartz, State Homeland Security Undersecretary, and Jack Pilecki, Wellesley Deputy Police Chief.

The program was clear and detailed, although, it probably could have been shorter. Four minutes of a program spent on one topic, can be a little risky as the audience doesn’t always pay attention for this long.

The article is well written and adds some more details to the story.

I couldn’t find any similar stories on any newspapers this morning, so good job!

The two downsides would be that Shenoy advertise a story about drones and talked only briefly about them. And the online story only has two tags, which is not enough for it to have a good chance to be found on a simple Google search about the 2015 Marathon.

Who won the Globe’s Munch Madness?

And the 2015 winner is: the Highland Kitchen in Sommerville.

Munch Madness

The Boston Globe launched its first Munch Madness in 2010. The Munch Madness is an annual contest opposing 64 local restaurants from the Boston area. Anyone can vote online for his or her favorite participant.

Although the idea of organizing such an event isn’t part of a journalistic effort, each step of the Munch Madness makes the news in the Boston Globe. The contest is divided in six rounds. The last round opposed  the Island Creek Oyster Bar to the Highland Kitchen. The latter won by 691 votes, Devra First reported in “Somerville restaurant Highland Kitchen wins Munch Madness 2015.”

In an era where everything is rated, especially food, The Boston Globe had a good idea to get people’s attention and probably attract people to read and buy The Globe.

The fine line between adolescent and adult

Laurence Steinberg reported for the Boston Globe on the Dzokhar Tsarnaev trial. She raised an interesting point about Tsarnaev’s age. Is he an adolescent or an adult?

Steinberg is a professor of psychology at Temple University and focuses her research on adolescence.

Mixing scientific facts, Justice and the marathon bombing trial, Steinberg did a great job with her article.

“Proffering developmental immaturity as a mitigating factor in a trial involving individuals who are Tsarnaev’s age is consistent with recent discoveries in the study of brain development, which show that substantial maturation continues well beyond 18. We can’t point to a specific chronological age at which the adolescent brain becomes an adult brain, because different brain regions mature along different timetables, but important developments, some of which are relevant to sentencing decisions, are still ongoing during the early 20s,” Steinberg wrote.


Plane crashes in France, a worldwide news

When I opened The Boston Globe website this morning, the first thing I saw was the headline about the Germanwings Airbus A320 plane, which crashed in the French Alps earlier this morning.


The plane was going from Barcelona, Spain, to Dusseldorf, Germany. The cause of the crash is still unkown.

The news spread internationally in less than a couple of hours.

It was interesting to have a look at different newspapers this morning and see how they deal with a breaking news story.

It turns out that they all dealt with it the same way. They all mentionned the same facts, almost in the same order.

The only differences were in the multimedia content choices.

Le Monde and Die Welt put on some twitter feeds or news feeds in their articles so that people could have a better idea of what happened when.

El Pais and The Guardian used some videos of speeches, some others put on some pictures of the victims’ families.

Antibiotics, what are the risks?


Frontline, in “The trouble with antibiotics” raised a concern that could affect every one of us. Are the antibiotics given to cattle and poultry a threat to human health?

In this piece, Frontline made a terrific job. The video, which is almost 40 minutes long, is interesting from the beginning to the end and very visual. The Frontline team gathered several experts with opposing views on the matter and confronted them in a very smooth way.

David Hoffman
David E. Hoffman

The written story is a little redundant with the video but gathers all the main points and useful links to sources they used. I also find it a little strange that the main journalist for the video, David E. Hoffman, is not the same journalist who wrote the article, Jason M. Breslow.

The layout of the webpage is very clear. At the bottom of the page, there are some previous videos related to the topic, which enable the viewers to have a general idea of the main developments of the story.

I would be curious to know if such studies were made in different countries and what they found. I would also like to know to what extent other countries use antibiotics for livestock and if some antibiotics are prohibited already.

Photo credits: Chicken farm, Wikipedia ; Picture of David E. Hoffman, New America Foundation. Some Rights Reserved, Creative Commons.

Tsarnaev’s trial, last minute concerns

The Boston Herald and the Boston Globe raised different concerns about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial, which is going to begin soon.

Tsarnaev, 21, is accused of dropping a backpack containing a bomb during the Boston Marathon, two years ago. The bomb killed four people and left many injured.

The challenge for the trial will not be to found out if Tsarnaev is guilty or not but to decide whether he should be executed or not.

“The FBI has already released surveillance footage of him at the scene, and prosecutors allege they have video footage of him dropping a backpack containing a bomb behind Martin Richard, an 8-year-old Dorchester boy who was killed in the attacks,” Milton J. Valencia wrote for the Boston Globe.

This unusual trial also raises last minute concerns such as, should he plead guilty or not guilty or who should be part of the jury.

The Boston Globe chose to focus on the plea, in “Tsarnaev plea now the big question,” whereas the Boston Herald emphasized more on the jury part of the story, in “Bulger jurors to Tsarnaev panel: It’s going to be tough.”

One could read in the Boston Globe today:

TsarnaevGlobe“But now, with his lawyers set this week to make their first public declaration in closely watched opening statements, one remaining legal quandary still stands before him: Should he change his plea from not guilty to guilty?
A strange concept, perhaps, considering there is no chance that a guilty plea would prompt prosecutors to lessen the charges he faces. But legal analysts say that continuing to maintain his innocence in the face of seemingly overwhelming evidence against him could actually serve to antagonize jurors — the same jurors who ultimately have the power to sentence him to death.”

The Boston Herald, chose a very interesting angle to its story by drawing a parallel between the jurors who served for the trial of James “Whitey” Bulger, a mobster, and Tsarnaev’s trial.

A Bulger juror from Brockton, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there’s only one way for Tsarnaev’sTsarnaevHerald jurors to cope: “Just go through it. That’s what I did,” he said. “I’m glad I had the experience, but at the same time, it was tough. The films, the testimony … I think I’ve moved on. I’m a Christian and that’s my foundation. I know who’s in charge.”

Bob Simon’s last

Bob Simon, Sunday 8, 2015.

“The thing that I was really interested in doing with the film, was making King more than a catch phrase, more than a holiday, more than a street name in a black neighborhood, more than a stamp, more than one speech. I mean, I wanted him to be a man, a living, breathing man,” Ava DuVernay, movie director said about her movie, Selma.

This is how Bob Simon chose to start, what became his last “60 Minutes” investigation.

Simon died last Wednesday on a car crash in New York City. The journalism world and his public were shocked by the news and even found some irony in this tragic event.

After being a war reporter, Simon started conduting investigations for “60 Minutes” in 1996.

His piece on Selma was really interesting. As usual, he asked questions, which led to compelling answers. The parallels he made between what DuVernay said and historical videos really helped understand better what the whole story was about.

He proved, once again, how good of a journalist he was.

Massachusetts snow storms on every lips

The whole world is talking about New England and most particularly Boston’s impressive snowfalls in the last three weeks. “It has snowed in Boston on 13 of the last 17 days,” John Bacon wrote in “Snowstorm wallops Boston with 20 more inches; records fall“, USA Today.

“In Massachusetts alone since last month’s blizzard struck, state workers have removed enough snow to fill Gillette Stadium 90 times over,” the Miami Herald reported in “‘It’s ridiculous’: record snowfall blankets New England.”

Massachusetts has experienced intense snowfalls since late January, and it’s not over. “We’ve got two potential snowstorms coming up in the North East in the next five days” Ari Sarsalari, meteorologist at the Weather Channel, announced.

England, Spain, France, Canada, all mentionned snow in New England and the transit troubles that it caused in their newscasts.


In today’s the British edition of The Guardian, the emphasis is on the MBTA’s poor service.

In France, it is really brief in today’s 12:45 news broadcast on M6. (15’24)

Even for Canada, it is a lot of snow. TVA Nouvelles covers the snowfalls with a video and an article.