Thursday 17 December 2009

Genteel BMJ runner-up in correction of the year

The British Medical Journal has come runner-up in the Corrections of the Year named by US website Regret the Error, which chronicles media mistakes, for apologising for changing "pisshouse" to "pub" in an author's copy.
The correction ran: "During the editing of this Review of the Week by Richard Smith the author’s term “pisshouse” was changed to “pub” in the sentence: “Then, in true British and male style, Hammond met Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye, in the pub and did a deal.” However, a pisshouse is apparently a gentleman’s toilet, and (in the author’s social circle at least) the phrase “pisshouse deal” is well known. (It alludes to the tendency of men to make deals while standing side by side and urinating.) In the more genteel confines of the BMJ Editorial Office, however, this term was unknown and a mistake was made in translating it into more standard English. We apologise for any misunderstanding this may have caused."
The winner was the Washington Post for: "A Nov. 26 article in the District edition of Local Living incorrectly said a Public Enemy song declared 9/11 a joke. The song refers to 911, the emergency phone number."
My personal favourite was the Guardian apologising to its own subs after the readers' editor referred to "journalists and subeditors" in her column. The apology said: "Subeditors are journalists. In trying to distinguish between the roles the column should have referred to writers/reporters and subeditors."

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