1) The St. Petersburg Times still apparently doesn't care that Neal Boortz did not compare Elena Kagan to Shrek. They've kept that untrue factoid in the text of a Robyn Blumner editorial column.
2) The Times also does not care that their report(s) that Charlie Crist received $7.4 million in public campaign financing are false. The figure remains esconced in a Times news report as well as in a subsequent editorial.
3) The Times' fact checking project, PolitiFact, published a national story about Sen. Jim DeMint that included yet another false claim. According to that story DeMint was incorrect that the percentage of all bills passed via unanimous consent was 94 percent. PolitiFact absurdly claimed that the real figure was 27.9 percent. PolitiFact has yet to address the problem.
I've contacted the Times' corrections department about the first two instances.
A PolitiFact FaceBook fan, Scott Tippetts, reported that he sent PolitiFact a note pointing out the problem with its percentage figures.
Thursday at 6:55pmToday I sent a message directly to the story's author, thinking that if the author came to believe that the story contained false information then their investment in the story would motivate an effort to fix it.
And nothing happens.
We'll keep watching.
Our standard at the St. Petersburg Times is simple: to get things right the first time. This being a human endeavor, we sometimes fall short.
When this happens in the news report, our policy is to correct factual errors, promptly and prominently. Readers who spot factual errors are encouraged to contact the news department, by telephone, letter or e-mail, so that we can address the mistake.
Our contact numbers are in the directory. Readers may also call our main City Desk at (727) 893-8215 between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m., or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
(St. Petersburg Times, bold emphasis in the original)
It's getting rather difficult to believe.
Your question about the Times' standards of accuracy and their application has been forwarded to me. Those standards do indeed apply to the entire paper. With respect to editorials and opinion columns, readers often have differences with the opinions expressed in those pieces. As I'm sure you understand, those are differences of opinions and not questions of fact.
(e-mail from Tim Nickens, the Times' editor of editorials)
Following the course I chose in the third instance, I contacted the author of the news report containing the second error. Steve Bousquet (responding promptly to my message) has affirmed that he will follow up with an editor with respect to publishing a correction. Props to Steve Bousquet.
Update 2 (Nov. 1, 2011):
Much has happened, at least from my end of things, without an update. To recap the gap:
PolitiFact did fix the badly wrong 27.9 percent figure in the DeMint fact check (though the fact check continues to contain egregious flaws). So one of these three irons came out of the fire.
As for the inaccurate reporting on public campaign finance in Florida, nothing happened subsequent to Bousquet apparently acknowledging the problem. I followed up by contacting the St. Petersburg Times' president, Paul Tash, with similarly invisible results. Today, I phoned the Times' directly. I briefly explained the problem and the friendly phone person said my inquiry fell in editor Jim Booth's department. But Mr. Booth was out and would not return until 11 a.m. The phone person asked for my phone number so that Mr. Booth could phone me and I gave it.
It's 3:04 p.m. as I type this, and I have received no call.
At about 11:30 a.m. I also sent Mr. Booth the links he would need to easily find the information at the Florida Division of Elections website along with the two stories containing the inaccurate numbers.
And the inaccurate information remains in both stories. Hopefully the next update will contain better news.