NY Times 'Corrects' False Article About Pirate Bay Appeal... Still Gets It Wrong
from the fact-checking? dept
It started on Friday, when we noted that the NY Times was reporting that The Pirate Bay had lost its appeal in court. The only problem? It hadn't. Not even close. It may eventually lose the appeal, but that decision won't come for some time. It's true that other sources (including The Hollywood Reporter article that the NY Times reporter relied on) also got the story slightly screwed up, but that's no excuse for the NY Times to repeat blatantly incorrect information. The error appears to be caused by the confusion about the difference between a district (lower) court and the appeals (higher) court. The appeal is over whether or not the district court judge in the case was biased. So, as a part of that appeal, the district court told the appeals court that, no, its judge was not biased. This is to be expected. Did anyone think that the district court wouldn't defend its judge?
However, many people simply got confused, and when they read that a Stockholm district court said (in the appeals court) that the judge wasn't biased, they assumed that it was a court ruling, not just testimony/a filing from one of the participants. Still, you would think with a story that's received so much attention that the NY Times would check with someone first to make sure such a ruling actually came down.
On Monday, however, some of our readers noted that the NY Times had "updated" or "corrected" its story. However, the really amazing thing? Even after realizing that it got the story wrong, it still hasn't gotten the story right. Instead, they changed the first sentence from: "A Swedish court has denied the appeal of four men convicted of violating copyright law.... " into "A Swedish court has said that the judge who presided over the case of four men convicted of violating copyright law for their involvement in the Pirate Bay, an Internet file-sharing service, was not biased against them."
Okay, that's closer but still wrong. First, the NY Times left the headline as is, saying "Appeal Is Denied in Pirate Bay Case." Then, the current first sentence doesn't make any distinction at all between what the lower court said as a participant in the higher court case and what the higher court will ultimately pronounce as a ruling. In fact, given the headline, nearly everyone would still read that first sentence to say that the court has issued a ruling denying bias. The NY Times also added this correction line that would likely confuse most people, saying: "An earlier version of this report stated that the men's appeal had been denied." But reading the article, it still sounds like the appeal has been denied. Is it that difficult for a big journalistic endeavor like the NY Times to fact check a story? Even when told that the story is wrong, and then going and "correcting" it, they got the story wrong.