Revising Web-based Newspaper Articles Without Informing Readers – NYT Edition

The original version of an NYT story on President Obama’s visit to the dover Air Force Base included a paragraph characterizing the trip as a staged event, “intended by the White House to convey to the nation that Mr. Obama was not making his Afghanistan decision lightly or in haste.”   At some point, however, this paragraph was removed from the story, and yet there is no indication that any change was made, as Ed Morrissey reports on Hot Air.

As with a similar incident at the Washington Post, the NYT may well have had a legitimate reason for the change. For instance, the paragraph may have been unsourced conjeccture on the part of the reporter, and thus an unfair characterization of the White House’s intent.  I am certainly willing to give the White House the benefit of the doubt on a matter like this. But whatever the reason for the change, the NYT should have disclosed that changes were made and that it had decided to excise information included in the original story.  As I wrote before:

This is not the first time I’ve noticed the web site of a prominent news organization failing to disclose that it had edited the web-based version of a story after initial publication. . . .  Is this now common practice? If so, it seems to be a major failing. Responsible bloggers routinely disclose anything more than the most minor stylistic and typographical revisions to published posts. I would think newspaper websites could do the same. Indeed, shouldn’t newspapers at least match the disclosure norms observed by bloggers? After all, they’re the real journalists.