This Is One of the Worst Retractions a Newspaper Has Ever Had to Publish


The News-Enterprise in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, had a story on its front page today that paraphrased a local police official as saying that most cops typically go into law enforcement “because they have a desire to shoot minorities.” Spicy stuff! Only problem: It never happened.

The paper quickly issued a retraction on its home page and updated the online version of the story—ironically headlined “Law enforcement to be honored for service”—to include a formal apology from editor Ben Sheroan. The corrected story now reads: “Hardin County Sheriff John Ward said those who go into the law enforcement profession typically do it because they have a desire to serve the community.”

So what happened? The paper initially called it a “typographical mistake” but that obviously didn’t make any sense. Jim Romenesko reports that it was actually a joke mistake. “One [copy desk staffer] wrote the ‘shoot minorities’ line on the page proof as a joke and the second—in charge of the front page—put it in the story.”

Never joke on the page proofs.

Fact:

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  • Ben Dreyfuss is Mother Jones' editorial director for growth and strategy. He's done some other stuff, too. You can email him at bdreyfuss@motherjones.com. But you don't have to. But you can. But you really don't have to.