An incredible correction from the New York Times about children and covid.

At least the reporter spelled her name correctly. Grade: F-

Never have I seen so many horrifying mistakes made in a single story as those that appeared in this New York Times report: “A New Vaccine Strategy for Children: Just One Dose, for Now.”

One sample: The story originally said that 900,000 American children had been hospitalized since the beginning of the Covid pandemic. That actual number is 63,000, from August 2020 to October 2021.

Oops. Just a little outside.

No need to explain how the misinformation (often attributed to right-wing publications) about the impact of the virus on children can skewer the entire debate–in favor of more of the suffocating restrictions favored by Democratic demagogues. Jeez, 900,000 children crowding America’s hospitals; we need to close the classrooms again and subject children to that suffocating remote learning.

But this is just one of the mistakes. If you knew where to look, you’d find this correction buried at the bottom of the story (and not in the usual place you’d look for corrections):

Correction: Oct. 7, 2021

An earlier version of this article incorrectly described actions taken by regulators in Sweden and Denmark. They have halted use of the Moderna vaccine in children; they have not begun offering single doses. The article also misstated the number of Covid hospitalizations in U.S. children. It is more than 63,000 from August 2020 to October 2021, not 900,000 since the beginning of the pandemic. In addition, the artcle misstated the timing of an F.D.A. meeting on authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children. It is later this month, not next week. 

None of these are minor errors. Just one of them would earn an F in journalism school–at least in the old school. A semi-conscious copy editor would have, or should have, noticed that 600,000 is a challengeable number. Did anyone call her on it? Did she defend it?

The New York Times has dropped a ton of bricks on its people for much less. Recall how James Bennet resigned as the New York Times opinion editor after he ran an op-ed by Senator Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, calling for a stronger response (“an overwhelming show of force”) to last summer’s riots. His position was arguable, but it was so roundly condemned by the publisher down to the woke mob in the newsroom that Bennet had no choice but to resign.

This latest example of atrocious, amateur reporting was provided by one Apoorva Mandavilli, whom the paper describes as someone who focuses “on science and global health. She is the 2019 winner of the Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting.” Of course.

One must now raise the question: Were the “errors” the result of incompetence, carelessness or bias? We’ll probably never know because as someone working for the vaunted New York Times, she fits all the requirements–meaning she isn’t conservative. Observe the rest of her biography:

She is the founding editor in chief of Spectrum, an award-winning news site on autism science that grew an audience of millions. She led the team there for 13 years. She joined The Times in May 2020, after two years as a regular contributor.

Ms. Mandavilli has won numerous awards for her writing. Her work has been published in The Atlantic, Slate and The New Yorker online, and in the anthology ”Best American Science and Nature Writing.”She co-founded Culture Dish, an organization dedicated to enhancing diversity in science journalism, and was the founding chair of the Diversity Committee for the National Association of Science Writers.

Ms. Mandavilli has a Master of Arts degree in journalism from New York University and a Master of Science degree in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is fluent in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada.

You might wonder how someone with those qualifications would load a story with such a parade of blunders, errors or–some will say–lies. More pointedly, why is Mandavillie still working for the paper?

Bennett’s non-error (for which he apologized in front of an “all-staff” meeting, ye gods) drew this condemnation: Publisher A. G. Sulzberger called the Bennett affair “a significant breakdown in our editing processes….” Of Bennett, he said, “Both of us concluded that James would not be able to lead the team through the next leg of change that is required.” Should we guess what the change is?

So, what about the editing process that Sulzberger mentioned? How did it blow past Mandavilli’s more serious errors? Will there be a painful examination of how a star reporter could get away with this? Will there be a house-cleaning? Will Mandavilli show up in front of the entire staff and apologize? Will the staff even care?

And this: Will the current crop of “journalists” recognize the seriousness of what happened at America’s most honored and adored newspaper? The Poynter Institute, the self-assigned ethical voice of journalism, has yet to mention it. I won’t stay tuned waiting for it.

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  • "America's most honored and adored newspaper"? Maybe once...now iI's a biased, partisan shill rag for the "progressives"...No Jacob Riis on this current staff...No Ben Bradley type editors either. Only "All the (woke) news that's fit to print"

  • Aren't you overreacting a bit? There were several errors in the original story that the Times corrected the very next day. There was no intent to spread misinformation. Remember that phony Indiana doctor you did a post on? As I recall, you endorse the misinformation he was conveying. Have you ever written a correction of the misinformation in that post? And how about the misinformation on Fox News? Have you condemned it for doing so?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    I quite clearly did not "endorse" his viewpoint. I wrote,"You decide." If you recall, Biden/Harris said they wouldn't take any vaccine that Trump had anything to do with. What was the science that they based that on? Maybe you know.

    Not overreacting. How did these massive errors get into the paper? Is Tom Cotton's op-ed the only thing in the NYT that deservers to be copy read closely?

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    You decide? What's to decide? His viewpoint has been totally rejected by the scientific community. Yet you irresponsibly suggested that it was worthwhile to consider.

  • Winners of the Victor Cohn Prize

    2021 – Helen Branswell, STAT, and Amy Maxmen, Nature
    2020 – Ed Yong, The Atlantic
    2019 – Apoorva Mandavilli, Spectrum
    2018 – Laura Beil, freelance medical writer
    2017 – Sharon Begley, STAT
    2016 – Liz Szabo, USA Today and Kaiser Health News
    2015 – Mark Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
    2014 – Elisabeth Rosenthal, The New York Times
    2013 – John Fauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and Joanne Silberner, radio journalist
    2012 – Jon Cohen, Science
    2011 – Ron Winslow, The Wall Street Journal
    2010 – Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press
    2009 – Denise Grady, The New York Times
    2008 – Joe Palca, National Public Radio
    2007 – Geeta Anand, staff writer, The Wall Street Journal
    2006 – Jerome Groopman, staff writer, The New Yorker
    2005 – Rick Weiss, reporter, The Washington Post
    2004 – Michelle Trudeau, reporter, National Public Radio
    2003 – Shannon Brownlee, freelance reporter
    2002 – Daniel Q. Haney, medical editor, The Associated Press
    2001 – Jon Palfreman, freelance documentary filmmaker
    2000 – Laurie Garrett, reporter, Newsday, and Lawrence K. Altman, reporter, The New York Times

    Dennis, do you have any objections to these awardees? Do you challenge their worthiness to win this prestigious award?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    What's your point? This list has nothing to do with my post. Is this your weak attempt to challenge what I wrote? I thought you could do better.

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    The point is that Mandavilli has been recognized as an outstanding science writer. Your criticism is unreasonably harsh. The error, however egregious in your opinion, was promptly corrected. Why do you still want a pound of flesh?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    No, the point is that if I had made as many and as serious mistakes in a single story as a reporter at the Chicago Daily News, I would have been fired and rightly so. She's no rookie. As you point out, she's award-winning, which makes her errors even more egregious. Harsh? There used to be an ethical requirement in journalism about getting things right.

  • Are you casting doubt on the integrity of the Poynter Institute because it fact-check Republican lies such as the ones Senator Johnson recently told about there being no vaccines approved in the USA?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    They should fact check everything. So, why no mention of this classic, textbook NTY correction?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    The FDA approved Corminaty, The Pfizer-BioGen Tech shot. Corminaty is not yet on the market and won't be for perhaps two years. IF Corminaty were on the market ALL the other vaccines, including Pfizer's, would have to be withdrawn. That is the law. Look it up. Have you seen any vaccines withdrawn? Are you hearing advertising on TV for Corminaty? The fact is, all the "mandated" shots are still EUA and therefore bear no liability for any side effects. It's a great play: force people to take it to stay employed and NOBODY is responsible. Senator Johnson did not mis-speak.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    Comirnaty is the brand name for the Pfizer-BioTech EUA. They have the same formulation.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    No.

  • "...it fact-checked..."

  • Waiting for the NYT to change its slogan from "All the news that's fit to print" to "If true"

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