Monday, January 18, 2016

Why the New York Times cannot fix typos in its digital news archives from long ago

If you see a typo --  -- in the daily New York Times, the editors there will fix every typo or incorrect fact that they are made aware of.
But ... if the typo or incorrect fact appears in a news article or oped from its digital archives from long ago, say 1995 or so, --  -- or even futher (sic), the Times cannot fix them. We recently asked why and got this reply from a kind and thoughtful employee at the Times.

Fearing G.I. Occupiers, Japan Urgesd Women Into Brothels

Dear TypoSpotter,
We care about that typo you spotted in Nicholas Kristof's 1995 piece from Tokyo with a rather sloppy typosetting typo in the headline,
and it's still there online in 2016 (sorry),
but you need to understand that it's technically very hard to go into our digitized archive that predates the modern Internet.
And we can't change the microfilm. We also don't have the staff to go back to fix typos and other errors beyond the recent ones; deadline work is imperfect, so there are too many.
Also, it's not really ethical to cleanse our past failures. We just live with them as reminders to do better.
And I am sure you are not the first nor will you be the last to point this one out.
I am sure Nick is well aware.
He gets an overwhelming torrent of email and messages. He might want to fix it, but it was definitely an editor's mistake, not his, and the correction editor would tell him what I have told you. I have nothing to do with corrections or setting the policy, though I agree with it. Send further complaints/comments to nytnews at
NYT employee