I love newspaper corrections pages.
I don't dwell or corrections with any sense of epicaricacy, of course. God knows I have made enough mistakes and it's simply courting bad journalism karma to laugh too derisively at any error made by a colleague.
Instead, I find buried in there is a chronicle of human error, bad luck, misunderstanding, and unfortunate timing that make for the whoppers that inevitably appear in print every day (they show up on TV and radio too, perhaps in greater numbers, but they tend to vanish quickly into the electronic ether and broadcasters are notoriously reluctant to remind the audience of errors by issuing a correction). Corrections are also a lovely chronicle of defensiveness, denial, and, occasionally, good humor. Writing a good correction can be an art form in its own right.
The New Yorker used to publish lots of little corrections as filler, but they hardly do that anymore. So I had to look to other sources. Fortunately, there are a few, including the famous Regret the Error. It's well worth checking out.
Regret is out with its annual Best of list for 2007, and some of them are excellent, including the one that caused me to laugh until I cried. From the Hindu Times:
A report “From Bombay to Rajasthan” (“Newscape” page, January 8, 2007) stated that actor Elizabeth Hurley will wear “a 4,000-pound sari by designer Tarun Tahiliani” during her wedding in March. While one reader wondered how she would be able to lift the 1,800 kg sari, another reader said there are possible fears about the bride being reduced to pulp by its weight. It was an error. The word “pound” was used instead of the currency symbol for pound sterling (£).
Or the nearly as funny one from The Guardian in the U.K.:
We wrongly converted a baby’s birth weight of 8lbs 15oz as 51kg. It is 4.1kg (Losing it, page 13, G2, January 1). A 51kg baby is an impossible 112lbs 6oz.
You just can't make this stuff up.