On the morning of October 23, we read an incredible headline in the New York Timesregarding the decision by Florida Governor Jeb Bush ordering the resumption of the feeding tube for Terry Schiavo. It read, “Brain-Dead Woman Receives Feeding Tube.” Brain-Dead? If that were the case, nothing could save her—she’d be dead. Curiously, the first sentence in the story read, “A brain-damaged woman….”
Reporters do not title their work, so the blame goes to the person who did. Interestingly, the late edition of the newspaper ran the story with the new title, “Brain-Damaged Woman Receives Feeding Tube.” When we looked for a correction in the next day’s paper, we found none. But there was a correction noted the same day, October 23, on the newspaper’s online site. Here’s what it said: “A headline yesterday on the continuation of a front-page article about an order to restore the feeding tube of a Florida woman in a right-to-die case misstated her condition in some copies. She is brain-damaged, not comatose.”
The “correction” is twice wrong: a) the headline in question did not appear “yesterday,” but the same day the correction was issued and b) the newspaper’s initial report did not say she was comatose—from which she could have recovered—but “brain-dead.”
Looks like the New York Times could use an ethics check.