Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Six years after the fact, I tag some weasel who altered Enquirer editor-in-chief Tom Callinan's blog!

On Friday, Enquirer Posts, Then Censors, Anti-Santorum Photos by Ben Kaufman at Cincinnati CityBeat reported my recent item about the Cincinnati Enquirer scrubbing photos of protest signs at a political rally.

One gripe is that the Enquirer's revised version failed to inform readers that the original story had been altered. Almost a week later, I'm still waiting for an answer from Enquirer assistant editor Carl Weiser about whether that was in compliance with the paper's corrections policy.

Carl Weiser (source)

Based on a tidbit of journalistic archeology I just excavated, dealing with errors by sending 'em down the memory hole was also going on behind the scenes at an Enquirer blog written by Weiser's former boss, Tom Callinan.

From Callinan's LinkedIn page:

Tom Callinan

In 2006, he made this foray into the blogosphere:

In Spring of that year, as the newsroom's top dog, Callinan had to deal with a widely-reported mess, the "Enquirer's controversial 'Grandma In Iraq' blog, which had drawn criticism because it was being written by a military spokeswoman (Suzanne Fournier) who had not fully disclosed her identity until last week...."(Billboard)

On April 12, 2006, Callinan blogged There's no there there, a column in which he asserted that the controversy was overblown.

I was following the "Grandma" dust-up and I saved his item to hard drive. If I hadn't, you wouldn't be reading this.

Here's the first section. (My highlighting; click here to read the entire piece.) Note his call for "intellectual honesty":

Here's the wind-up:

A commenter then posted this response:

Fair catch, sure, but so what? The busy editor of a major metro daily makes a minor misattribution? Per Archie Bunker, "Whoop-de-doo."

I haven't thought about this for years, but after last week's disappearance of the Santorum protester photos, I wondered if Callinan's "Letters to the Editor" blog was still online, so I went a' searchin'.

From the file I saved, I had the URL: http:/frontier.cincinnati.com/blogs/editor Click and you'll see that apparently the Enquirer deleted his blog from its servers. 

So I plugged the URL into The Wayback Machine, the invaluable site that archives web pages. I found copies of Callinan's blog dating from April 8-15, 2006.

Take a gander at this screen shot of the April 12 item:


Unless Callinan's blog was hacked, an Enquirer employee must have gone in and repaired the original version to make it appear as if he'd never made the error.

Who would attempt such a petty cover-up?

We may never know, but I wanted Tom Callinan's take on this sneaky after-the-fact editing of his copy.

According to his LinkedIn page, after leaving the Enquirer, Callinan entered the halls of academia.

A few days ago I e-mailed an inquiry to Professor Callinan asking for his expert opinion about the "Gertrude Stein" switcheroo and the Enquirer's recent scrubbing of the photos from the Santorum protest.

In the interests of intellectual honesty,  I'll be reporting the results here.

UPDATE, 3/30/12: On March 13, I received an e-mail from Elizabeth Benedict, Communications Director at Social Venture Partners International, Professor Callinan's current perch.

She confirmed she'd forwarded him my e-mails of March 11 and March 13, but I haven't heard from the professor himself. (It may be that he's too busy participating in panels discussing the skills needed for working in modern newsrooms.)

Therefore it appears we can only guess which newsroom weenie altered the copy on Professor Callinan's blog to correct his "Gunter Grass" goof.