Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Nashville Newspaper Is Embarrassment - Update: MSM Memory Hole Policy

UPDATE: Since I posted this story, the Tennessean has proved my point once again. The Daily Disgrace has since corrected its error. Yet, it failed to note the correction or acknowledge the error.

I linked to the Tennessean's original story in the critique below. Yet, now and forever more, when readers click on that link they will see only the corrected story, with not even so much as a note that the story was updated.

Next time I critique the provincial newspaper, I'll save a screenshot of the page. Other bloggers should do the same.

See Bob Krumm for another post that documents the original erroneous story. Also, see Nashville is Talking.

You can see an example of the confusion the Daily Disgrace creates with its Memory Hole policy here. The Tennessean should take a lesson from the blogger at that link; it takes maturity to admit mistakes, the blogger has it, the newspaper does not.

Originally posted on Saturday, August 13, 2005 (3:41pm):

Nashville's major daily newspaper, The Tennessean continues to embarrass the state and dismay its readers with its refusal to hire a factchecker who can stay awake long enough to recognize even the most glaring falsehoods.

Never mind the paper's habit of catering to conservative causes and organizations, I am simply tired of rolling my eyes in disbelief over the countless absurdities presented as facts. Presumably, the paper refuses to make even the most minimal of efforts to get its facts straight.

It's true we all make occasional mistakes, but this Gannett publication has resources - including paid employees for gawd's sake - yet its opinion pages consistently present fiction as fact.

Take this recent guest editorial:

I was recently astounded to learn that 25% of TennCare enrollees are employed by Wal-Mart. It did not take much research to discover that this is true, even though the number is not well known in Tennessee. It's one of the most outrageous developments in the checkered history of a good intention gone bad...

One in four TennCare enrollees works for Wal-Mart.

Good Grief! If 25% of TennCare enrollees work for Wal-Mart, somebody name a town after this retail giant, quick!

Astounded? I guess so. Before Governor Bredesen began to make his brutal healthcare cuts, in the past month or so, there were 1.3 million Tennesseans on TennCare. Who knew Wal-Mart employed more than 300,000 Tennesseans? No one. Other than the author of this opinion piece and the perpetually unconscious folks at the Tennessean.

What the writer should have said is that according to a recent study, about 25 percent of Wal-Mart's 37 thousand workers in Tennessee are on TennCare. That's 9,617, not 300,000 plus.

And Walmart is not the only culprit:

In January 2005, state officials released the results of a survey, undertaken at the request of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, of which companies had employees who were enrolled in TennCare, the state’s health plan for the poor, uninsured and disabled. Ranking first was Wal-Mart, with 9,617 employees on TennCare, nearly 25 percent of the company’s entire workforce in the state. Trailing Wal-Mart among the top five were four temp agencies: Randstad Staffing Services USA (6,389), Adecco USA Inc. (4,205), Staffmark East LLC (3,818) and Real Time Staffing Services (3,783). The survey found that the top 20 employers of TennCare recipients accounted for more than 68,000 participants in the program, or about six percent of total enrollment.

The facts are shocking enough. This ridiculously glaring error does not help the cause of getting our state to stop subsidizing big business.

All the newspaper has to do to stop us from rolling our eyes in embarrassment is teach some of its employees to google. Better yet, teach them to read blogs! The paper might have consulted any one of the following blogs and avoided looking like the prime candidate for the Lazy Media Award of the Year.

Blogs (that got it correct) for the Tennessean to consult:

No Silence Here
Pam's House Blend
Katie Allison
10,000 Monkeys and a Camera

Other Resources for the Tennessean:

Walmart Watch and here
Wake-Up Walmart
Reclaim Democracy