Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I Stand Corrected

When I first read the Bret Hayworth story Ratio of Democrats in 4th congressional district increases, in Sunday's Sioux City Journal, I felt it was a non story.

When I decided to check the Secretary of State's website for the numbers, I knew a correction was in order and that's what I noted in my e-mail, yesterday, to Hayworth.

Needless to say, I was a little stunned when I got this response --

We made a substantial error and are making a retraction, by admitting the error and writing a new version of the story. Thank you for pointing us on this.

I so often point out their errors that most in the media don't respond and the scientific community is united in that fact.

Prior to this the best I had received was when the Ragister admitted -- You are right and we were wrong.

I then received another e-mail from Hayworth --

A blog post I just wrote regarding this, FYI:

I made an error in the latest Iowa 4th District voter registration totals in a Journal article Sunday that summarized statistics one year out from the 2014 election.

We were tipped to the error late Monday morning. We've now cited the error in the original story online. I've also written a reworked version that cites the error and includes the correct information, which will appear online and on Page A1 in the Journal on Tuesday.

Journal Editor Chris Coates has written a blog post to share what happened. Now I'm adding to that.

I looked at the Nov. 1 Iowa Secretary of State voter registration totals many times in writing the story, but got it wrong. I've used that site for registration totals for years as a political reporter in sharing voter totals, but in this case a number that was off exactly 3,000 made it into print due to my error. Essentially, I saw a '6' in the thousands column and it became a '9.'

I misread the total for Democrats as 129,959, but it was properly 126,959. The story used that wrong number and relayed an improper picture, incorrectly saying Democrats have made registration gains when compared to Republicans, while in actuality Republicans have slightly gained since the 2012 election.

I have contacted the offices of U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, in order to directly relay my apology for the error. A reporter can say they deal with a lot of information and numbers in writing scads of stories, but the reality is that information has to be correct for readers.

I failed with my reporting last week, for which I apologize to all Journal readers, including six-term Congressman King.

A retraction and an apology to Steve King?


Let me type that again, backwards -- WOW!

Technically the Non Party voter numbers were transposed as well (176,138 is the correct figure and not Hayworth's 176,318), but hey, I'll live off this high for at least another few hours.

Journal Editor Chris Coates also thanks me, the person who pointed out the mistake.


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