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Fact checking

April 26, 2010

Hertha BSC - russelljsmith, flickr

Fact checking is an essential part of quality journalism. The New York Times generally seems to do a decent job, but in an article from Sunday on the German soccer Bundesliga somehow their fact checkers missed two glaring errors right at the beginning of the article:

“After the Wall, Berlin’s Olympiastadion was one of the landmarks of German division. And after the now-united city’s team, Hertha, succumbed to a late goal on Saturday, losing 1-0 to Schalke, its relegation from the Bundesliga now looks to be inevitable.

“That means the former East German soccer league will have no representative in the country’s most affluent division. It also means the German capital city will have no team in the Bundesliga.”

How someone (Rob Hughes) who reports on German soccer could think that Hertha BSC, a founding member of the Bundesliga in the Federal Republic of Germany, was a member of the “former East German soccer league” is a bit beyond me, since even a casual fan would have to know that that is absurd.

Olympiastadion - Markus Kolletzky, flickr

But that is a rather narrow point for most people.  The far more egregious error is referring to the Olympiastadion as a “landmark” of divided Germany. It is a landmark, however, of Nazi Germany.

Having just read an article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung last week (sadly not online, or rather only for a ridiculous fee) about how major journalism outlets are cutting back on fact checkers–most never had any to spare to begin with–I think things are only going to get worse in this department.

Seen any juicy factual errors lately?

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