“Misidentified” is the editorially correct word to use when a journalist has totally screwed up. In published corrections, it is best used without mentioning what the original goof was. An example was in the “For the record” notes of The Boston Globe, July 7, 2017: “Correction: Because of an editing error, a photo caption in Thursday’s obituary pages misidentified Simone Veil. Mrs. Veil was one of France’s most revered politicians. The Globe regrets the error.”

Unless you happened to notice the photo caption, you’d have no idea what the “misidentification” error was. Was Mrs. Veil identified as a Belgian politician? Perhaps they said Miss Veil? Or that she was the most revered, not one of the most? Well, the original cutline reported that “he” was “Mr. Veil.” She was identified correctly in the original obituary a few days earlier.

File under: Where have all the copy editors gone?

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Contact: BobSkole@aol.com

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