This morning, NPR ran a segment correcting an error in a segment that was ran yesterday. Two days ago, columnist David Cay Johnston wrote an article for Reuters exposing the fact that News Corp did not have to pay any federal taxes for several years. Yesterday, he was on NPR to discuss the fact that News Corp did not have to pay any federal taxes for several years. Last night, he found out that the fact that News Corp did not have to pay any federal taxes for several years was actually not a fact at all. It was completely wrong.
Johnston’s mistake came when reading through some very complicated financial documents. The mistake has to do with mixing up tax deferrals and combining years, or something along those lines. You can read his explanation of events here: http://blogs.reuters.com/mediafile/2011/07/14/how-i-misread-news-corps-taxes/ Regardless of how it happened, NPR had Johnston on this morning to explain the mistake, because as it turns out, NPRs policy is to give corrections as much time and attention as was spent on the initial mistake.
The irony of this situation is that had the situation been reversed and Fox News (owned by Newscorp) had made a factual error about Johnston, it would have never been corrected. Maybe, just maybe, it would have gotten a line or a blurb at the end of a segment. There lies an underappreciated problem with Fox News. It is not only a constant source of misinformation, but it is a constant source of misinformation that is never corrected.
When an organization has the word “News” in its name, it creates a natural association with journalism. Journalism, like the kind done by Johnston & NPR, corrects its factual mistakes. Journalism is fair & balanced. Newscorp and Fox News simply aren’t.