Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Watertown Daily Times sets the Atlantic straight

When the Watertown Daily Times in northern New York saw that Malcolm Burnley of the Atlantic had been horribly off base on a story about large-scale agriculture, the Amish and land prices in rural St. Lawrence County, it set out to set the record straight, and did so Sunday in a 3,300-word story by Christopher Robbins. (Screenshot including Reuters photo)

"It is a model of good reporting and the importance of having reporters living, breathing and writing in rural communities," Daily Yonder co-editor Bill Bishop writes as he retells the story. "This is a great story, and tells so much about journalism, the relationship between city and country and how important it is to listen."

Times Managing Editor Robert D. Gorman says in the story, “The writer didn’t know the difference between bail and bale, teats and udders, DePeyster and Canton, and wrote that huge agribusinesses have moved into St. Lawrence County, which is simply not true. Despite acknowledging Mr. Burnley’s factual errors, his editors are still convinced he methodically unraveled an incredibly complex socioeconomic trend in regional farming. I have told them Mr. Burnley got that wrong, too, but to no avail.” The Atlantic has corrected six errors but the story remains posted.

1 comment:

Christopher Robbins said...

Hello, Al. You might want to mention that I am a 2011 graduate of the University of Kentucky School of Journalism. I'll go ahead and mention that the story was really a collaboration between myself, another reporter (Sue Mende) and two very hard-working editors. It couldn't have been what it was without a newsroom working together. Thanks for noticing our hard work.