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Reuters Throws Rocks In A Glass House

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After Kenneth Lay’s death, Reuters put out an article mocking Wikipedia’s inaccurate coverage of the event. And, I have to admit, it was rather funny, if you like that sort of black humor. But now, in an ironic turn of events, Reuters had to issue a correction on its own story.

The Reuters article documented Lay’s Wikipedia entry as it went through the following changes.

At 10:06 a.m., Wikipedia’s entry for Lay said he died “of an apparent suicide.”
At 10:08, it said he died at his Aspen, Colorado home “of an apparent [heart attack] or [suicide].”
Within the same minute, it said the cause of death was “yet to be determined.”
At 10:09 a.m., it said “no further details have been officially released” about the death.
Two minutes later, it said: “The guilt of ruining so many lives finally (sic) led him to his suicide.”
At 10.12 a.m., this was replaced by: “According to Lay’s pastor the cause was a ‘massive coronary’ heart attack.”
By 10:39 a.m., Lay’s entry said: “Speculation as to the cause of the heart attack lead many people to believe it was due to the amount of stress put on him by the Enron trial.” This statement was later dropped.

Reuters said this “underscored the challenges facing online encyclopaedia,” and so it did. But then Reuters made a mistake of its own. “A family spokeswoman said that Lay passed away early on Wednesday morning in Aspen,” one line read. Now, a small note has appeared: “Corrects and recasts paragraph two to show that a spokeswoman for the Lay family did not give the cause of Lay’s death. It was given by another source.”

Slashdot, Techdirt, and a score of other Web entities have noted this gaffe. Reuters has to sing the “I’m Very Sorry Song” and get bonked with the Calvinball.

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Doug is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest eBusiness news.

Reuters Throws Rocks In A Glass House
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