The dissolution of the Soviet Union some 23 years ago unleashed a bunch of new countries on the world, several ending in “stan.” It can get a little confusing, as exemplified in this correction from a recent New York Times story on two men, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson, who undertook a massive rock-climbing challenge:
Correction: January 7, 2015
An earlier version of this article misidentified the country whose army chased Tommy Caldwell’s kidnappers. It was Kyrgyzstan, not Kyrzbekistan, which does not exist.
— Alexandra Horowitz (@DogUmwelt) January 8, 2015
We Austranians don’t like Kyrzbesistanis ever since they have sided with Luxemstein in the United States Of Amigos question #Kyrzbekistan
— Martin Hovezak (@MirrorOfMirrors) January 8, 2015
Laugh all you like at the New York Times, but mistakes like this one happen all the time at news outlets across the map — and many of them engage in coverups. Here, the New York Times had the integrity not to attempt a furtive change to the text in the hope that no one would notice. Phil Corbett, the paper’s associate managing editor for standards, tells the Erik Wemple Blog that the mistake came to the attention of staff before it hit print — and so cleaning it up was an online-only task. He explains: “[W]e do indeed append corrections online for factual errors even when the error only appeared online; that’s our normal policy. (Of course, something like a mere typo would be cleaned up without appending a correction.) For more and more readers, the online (and/or mobile) version of The Times is the one and only New York Times. We’re way past the point of thinking of the print version as somehow the ‘real’ version. We need to acknowledge errors with corrections for those online readers for the same reasons we’ve always done that for print readers.”
Updated at 11:40 a.m. to add comments from Corbett.