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Posted at 07:00 PM ET, 12/06/2011

A headline that got it wrong


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, visits the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility, some 200 miles south of Tehran.

This post has been updated to correct garble in a quote from Just Foreign Policy’s Web site.

A nonprofit group called Just Foreign Policy started an e-mail campaign to complain about a headline on one of our photo galleries.

In a piece on its Web site, Just Foreign Policy wrote that U.S. media “helped railroad the nation into war with Iraq by treating as ‘fact’ key allegations about Iraq’s alleged WMD program which had not been proven.”

The post continued, “Now we’re seeing the same behavior in the US media about allegations that Iran is seeking to acquire a nuclear weapon.” It also invited readers to e-mail Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton and urge him to investigate.

The ombudsman, who says he received more than 1,500 e-mails on the subject, flagged relevant editors about the bad headline on Tuesday afternoon.

The original headline — “Iran's quest to possess nuclear weapons” — left the impression that there is no debate about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Of course there is a debate, and Iran says it is not pursuing a nuclear weapon. After a  quick internal discussion, we changed it to “Iran’s quest to possess nuclear technology” and added an editors’ note describing the problem with the earlier headline.

The headline, while it went through our editing process, simply got it wrong.

— Eric Rich, deputy Universal Desk editor

Do you have a question for Post editors? Leave it in the comments or submit it on Twitter using the hash tag #askthepost.

By Eric Rich  |  07:00 PM ET, 12/06/2011

Tags:  Q&A

 
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