Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Gettin' jiggy with reporter Lindsay Abrams's Atlantic article about my father

A couple of weeks ago, my trusty Google News robot sent me a link to this story:

Here are the first few paragraphs:

Atlantic reporter Lindsay Abrams's article -- a concise, thorough round-up of my father's bizarre career -- could just as well have been titled, "What was left out of Radiolab's Heimlich story." (More about that in a future item.)

But this sentence didn't ring true:

Although I doubt that my father invented what came to be known as the Heimlich Valve...
"I don't think my father invented anything," Peter said, "but his own mythology." (source)
...I can't recall any published information that supported Ms. Abrams's statement, so in a March 11 e-mail, I asked her:
Would you please provide your source(s) for that statement? That is, who has claimed my father may not have invented the Heimlich Valve?
To which she promptly replied:
I thought I had saw [sic] it on your site, but if that's not the case I'm going to have to go back through my notes to find exactly where this was. In the meantime, I've temporarily removed that claim until I can be sure I can accurately source it.
Here's the updated paragraph as of then:

Over a week later, the article was the same, so I e-mailed Ms. Abrams re: the status of the correction, to which she promptly replied:
I have not been able to locate the original source of that claim. I believe that it was originally intended to be a reference to this story from Radar Magazine, which refers to a different controversy concerning the Heimlich valve: http://medfraud.info/Radar_Outmaneuvered_11-05.html

The correction, once again, has been appended to the piece -- thank you again for bringing it to my attention.
That's when things started gettin' jiggy.

Contrary to her "once again" claim, this was the first I'd heard about an "appended correction."

But jiggier still?

There was no appended correction on the article.

Assuming she'd erred and simply neglected to post the correction, I replied:
Not sure if it's my browser's cache pulling up an older version (of your article), but I don't see the noted correction on the story. Can you send me a screenshot of that, please?
No reply, so the next day I wrote her:
Not to be a nag, but I first brought this to your attention on March 11 (see e-mails below my signature), so I'd like to wrap this up, preferably by the end of today. 

Via your previous e-mail: 

The correction, once again, has been appended to the piece...

My eyesight isn't what it used to be, but this morning I viewed your article in three different web browsers and I couldn't find an appended correction. I've attached a time-stamped copy of the print version from this morning which doesn't include it.
Still no reply.

Quick sidetrack via her article:

Tired of playing dodge ball with Ms. Abrams -- who, based on her resume, should know better -- I took it upstairs to Atlantic editor James Bennet and to Natalie Raape, the magazine's Communications Director.


And yesterday afternoon, this appended correction did finally appear:

But wait, there's more!

Today I noticed that this part of her article was expanded from this:

To this:

I thought that was interesting and that Ms. Abrams might be interested in learning more. So about an hour ago, I phoned her, but she said she wasn't interested in receiving more information.

Oh, and the appended correction has also been expanded:

Incidentally, about that photo used in the article, here's the cutline:

Click here to see the entire photo.

Isn't that the late actress/dancer Gwen Verdon? I'll try to find out.

If so, maybe I can score yet another update on Ms. Abrams's article!

3/27/13 UPDATE: Not Gwen Verdon or even close! In response to my inquiry, Paul Colford, Director of Media Relations at the Associated Press, replied, "The woman is Dorothy Allen of Halifax, Mass."