Brattleboro Reformer Must Correct Its Correction

In responding to complaints concerning an inaccurate headline, the Brattleboro Reformer of Vermont compounded the problem with an erroneous correction which appeared April 26 on page 9. The correction states: “An inaccurate headline in Friday’s edition of the Reformer accompanied a story about a blast that rocked a Palestinian building in the West Bank on Thursday. Responsibility for the blast has not been determined.” The headline in question reads: “Israeli blast rocks Palestinians” (by Hadeel Wahdan, AP).

The correction erroneously states that “responsibility for the blast has not been determined.” In fact, the story itself directly contradicts both the original headline as well as the supposed “correction.” According to the AP story which the Reformer ran, both Israelis and Palestinians concur that the blast is of Palestinian origin, and that the Israelis do not hold any responsibility in this incident. As the Reformer stated in the April 20 story:

Israel said it had nothing to do with the explosion, which ripped the roof off a two-story building where Force 17 had an office. At first the Palestinians said an Israeli helicopter rocketed the building in downtown Ramallah, but there was little evidence to support the claim, and Palestinian security officials later acknowledge the blast came from inside. [Emphasis added.]

Rubble from the roof was strewn around the area, indicating the explosion occurred inside the building. Awad Khader, who owns a shop across the street, said the blast came from inside the building and added, “I didn’t hear any noise of aircraft in the sky.”

Where exactly is the ambiguity in this story regarding responsibility for the blast? Both Israeli and Palestinian representatives acknowledge Palestinian responsibility for the blast. Furthermore, the Los Angeles Times, among others, reported that: “At first, the Palestinians said the damage was caused by an Israeli rocket, but they said later that a gas leak caused the blast” (“Palestinian Mortar Attacks Draw Return Fire From Israel,” April 20, 2001).

The Brattleboro Reformer ignored calls to print a correction about its “correction.”

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