Journalism and tourism

The hiatus is over, and it’s time to get back to blogging, among other things.

My family went to New York and Montreal for our summer vacation. One of the highlights of the trip was a visit inside The New York Times.

The bulk of this tour, of course, was walking around large rooms full of desks and computers, but it was fascinating to see the nerve center of one of the world’s most important newspapers. We visited the boardroom, which is lined with autographed photographs of the famous people who have visited through the decades. We strolled the halls decorated with the seemingly countless Pulitzers the paper has won. And we saw some familiar names on the schedules for the Metro copy desk.

Even my 6-year-old son was impressed. Thanks to Arlene Schneider and Don Hecker at the Times for making this such a memorable part of our trip.


Wiki wars

Wikipedia, where everyone is a writer and editor, is ripe for mischief. Earlier today, an image from the original “Star Wars” was included under the listing for 2006 Israeli-Lebanon conflict, as noted at Wonkette. The cutline reads: “An IDF laser cannon fires into Southern Lebanon.”

The prank has since been edited out of the entry, allowing Wikipedia advocates to point to the online encyclopedia’s self-correcting abilitities. Other assertions, not as absurd but nonetheless faulty, slip by. Such errors, sometimes deliberate, appear frequently and often go uncorrected for extended periods, as NPR reported earlier this year.

As a source for fact-checking, Wikipedia is OK as a starting point, as many entries list primary sources at the end. But the site is inadequate as a “one-stop shop” for careful editors.

UPDATE: Stephen Colbert has a funny take on Wikipedia that’s available on YouTube.

Plagiarism sacks Duke QB

Duke University is without a starting quarterback for the upcoming season because Zack Asack has been suspended for plagiarism. A lot has been said lately about Duke’s balance of academics and athletics, but this is a heartening indication that the university takes such transgressions seriously.

Here are some interesting facts on plagiarism, a problem in the classroom and the newsroom.

Location, location, location

Chimney Rock, a privately owned tourist attraction in the North Carolina mountains, is for sale for a cool $55 million. As the clever headline in The News & Observer says: “The price is steep, but you can’t top the view.”

The story, however, points us in the wrong direction:

Since 1902, the Morse family has owned the park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Rutherford County, about 250 miles east of Raleigh.

The Web version of the story corrects the error.