Vigilant media watchdogger Craig Silverman, in his column in the Toronto Star on Saturday 21 April, points out how the addition of a period put a horrible twist to the words of an officer in the Afghan military, Ghulam Jehlani Shafiq (left, as pictured in The Australian on 14 April).
[Silverman has quite a reputation for spotting errors by the media. He does not limit himself to examining quotations only. His book, and blog, share the title: Regret the Error. It’s worth tracking.]
The correction, printed in The Australian on Monday 16 April sums it up well:
DUE to a production error, a quote attributed to Lieutenant Colonel Ghulam Jehlani Shafiq in a report in The Weekend Australian on Saturday (“Afhanistan batles scourge of corruption”, page 16) was altered to change its meaning. Colonel Jehlani did not say: “It’s not like 25 years ago. I was killing everybody.” In fact, he said: “It’s not like 25 years ago I was killing everybody. At that time too we tried not to have civilian casualties.” The Australian apologises for the error.
The statute of limitations, of course, doesn’t help here.
To, perhaps, better illustrate how utterly damaging that type of error is, it might help to see how it originally appeared in print. That’s a screen capture of it at below:
Ah, the good old days! When you could kill everybody! Ouch.