Saturday, November 01, 2008

George Orwell's characters seems to be alive and well as the San Diego Union Tribune redacts its archives

Scott Lewis wrote this story before he learned how very seductive the power of an editor can be: you can cause trouble for people you don't care about, and protect others who are equally or more guilty of wrongdoing. Voice of San Diego has been very careful not to demand public records from San Diego County Office of Education. If Diane Crosier doesn't want to hand them over, VOSD politely accepts her decision.

See more posts regarding Scott Lewis.

U-T Decides to Redact Its Archives
Voice of San Diego
October 30, 2008

Uh oh. Backtrack alert. We've got some historical revision going on.

I pointed out below how the U-T had posted a blog two weeks ago revealing that the paper received SEDC's "unredacted" legal bills, which we've been trying to get for weeks.

We discovered right away when we looked at those same documents that they were, in fact, totally incomplete -- missing, crucially, the number of hours worked -- and Will Carless hounded the agency for the weeks to get the full, unredacted, legal bills.

The agency finally released those today, but the U-T suddenly decided in its post today that the bills it received weeks ago were actually "heavily redacted" and not satisfyingly -- as it had declared only weeks earlier -- "unredacted."

So I did the post today wondering if they were going to decide which was actually true.

Looks like the paper would prefer to pretend it never was confused at all. The U-T has gone into its archives and taken the word "unredacted" out of the sentence explaining what happened.

Here's a screen shot of the Oct. 15 sentence as it has stood for two weeks until just now.

And here's the way it looks now, a couple hours after I put up the below post :

There's no acknowledgement anywhere that the paper changed the substance of its story.

You simply can't do that. Journalists, in order to maintain credibility, have to let readers know if they change anything of substance on their sites. We do it all the time.

But you can't just change reality.

This deserved a correction -- below the post at least.