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Chi Trib can't keep its Johnsons straight

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by SockPuppet, Aug 10, 2006.

  1. SockPuppet

    SockPuppet Active Member

    Editor's memo in the Chicago Tribune:

    Dan McGrath, Associate Managing Editor/Sports
    Published August 10, 2006

    Haste to make deadline is no excuse for putting incorrect information in a newspaper.

    Factual errors erode a paper's credibility.

    We made an inadvertent but hurtful error Tuesday night in an effort to get as much news as possible into Wednesday's final edition of the Tribune sports section, and we would like to apologize to Eddie Johnson, his family and friends, and our readers.

    An Associated Press story detailing the arrest of "former NBA All-Star Eddie Johnson" moved across the wire late Tuesday, and a decision was made to get it into the "Press Box" segment of the sports section, where our sports briefs go.

    In Chicago, former NBA star Eddie Johnson means Eddie Johnson, 47, a 6-foot-7-inch forward from Westinghouse High School and the University of Illinois, the Eddie Johnson who went on to a 17-year pro career with seven NBA teams. The Eddie Johnson who was distinguished as much by good citizenship and charity work as by 19,202 career points, a 16-point scoring average and the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award he won with the Phoenix Suns in 1988-89.

    Unfortunately, the man arrested Tuesday was "the other" Eddie Johnson, 51, a 6-2 guard from Auburn who had a 10-year career with three NBA teams and has been in and out of trouble with the law since he quit playing in 1987.

    In the last paragraph of the wire story, "the other" Eddie Johnson was identified correctly as a former Atlanta Hawks All-Star who played college ball at Auburn. But in our haste to make deadline, we failed to make the distinction.

    The Ocala, Fla., dateline should have been one tipoff. Chicago's Eddie Johnson lives in Phoenix and works as a television analyst for the Suns.

    The charges--sexual battery on a child younger than 12 and residential burglary--should have been not a tipoff but a red flag. Anyone who knows or has had even limited contact with Chicago's Eddie Johnson would find it unfathomable that he would be linked to such behavior.

    "It has happened before" in other media, Johnson said Wednesday from his home in Phoenix. "The other guy keeps getting in trouble, and since I'm the more visible of the two, it keeps coming back to me."

    For the record, Chicago's Eddie Johnson remains extensively involved in charity work, including motivational speaking and basketball clinics for kids. In addition to his broadcasting duties, he is president of a Phoenix telecommunications firm. He got his degree from Illinois in 1981, and he was and is regarded as one of the NBA's model citizens.

    Again, we apologize.

    "It has been a tough day," Johnson said, "but I appreciate you trying to set the record straight."
  2. Chi City 81

    Chi City 81 Guest

    Paging DyePack.
  3. area313code

    area313code Member

    McGrath is a class act. A lot of places wouldn't have handled it so eloquently.
  4. Dignan

    Dignan Guest

    They were talking about this on the Dan Patrick Show today.

    Dan, a journalist to his core, had this to say about the Chicago Tribune's error:

    "Sometimes it's best to be correct and not the first (when reporting a story.)"

    Gee, Dan. Ya think?
  5. Didn't Skip Bayliss make the same mistake on Cold Pizza?
  6. Johnsonville

    Johnsonville Member

    Dan had Charles Barkley on today. Chuck ripped Bayless and Marriotti. Said he would kill them if it was legal. Then said he wanted to fight both of them at the same time in the boxing ring. Money would go to charity.
  7. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    A Wenalway item is in the works, but won't be posted until at least Friday to allow for some investigation.

    That being said, I think McGrath should have said specifically what the error was. He never really does.

    Also, who is the copy editing loss who reads the story and decides: "This has to be Eddie Johnson from Westinghouse! Of course we'd run only a brief about it!"
  8. greenie

    greenie Member

    I'd fork over $39.95 to see that on PPV.
  9. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please? Would Eddie Johnson report to the stadium office. Eddie Johnson...telephone.

    EDDIE: Who would be calling me here? (he stands up and look around)

    ELAINE: (to the person in front of her) He's not the child molester.
  10. imjustagirl2

    imjustagirl2 New Member

    Here's the problem with this whole thing, in my eyes. The first graf has "former NBA All-Star Eddie Johnson" in quotes, meaning that's how it ran in the paper.

    If I remember correctly, the Eddie Johnson this whole thing kowtows to was never an All-Star.

    So where was he mislabeled? "In Chicago, former NBA star Eddie Johnson means ..." Well yes. But this didn't say 'Former NBA star.' It said former ALL-STAR.

    Which this Eddie Johnson was not.
  11. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    I think it's simple: people assumed something that wasn't.

    Before this broke, if you had told me the accused Eddie Johnson was a 3-time All-Star and the non-accused, but better known, Eddie Johnson never was, I'd have thought the AP screwed up. When this broke the other day, I went straight to databasebasketball to check if it was right. To my surprise, it was, I even posted that in the original Eddie Johnson thread on Tuesday.

    No excuse for the Chicago Tribune, which should have fucking known better, especially considering anyone who ever covered the non-accused Eddie Johnson would have told you he was a standup guy.
  12. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    I'll throw the Trib and other papers who screwed this up a minor bone -- the AP story should have had a graph that said something like,"the accused Johnson, not to be confused with another, unrelated Eddie Johnson who played in the NBA from 1981-98 ..."
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