I’ve always found it deeply troubling that online news sources are increasingly making changes to articles in real time, sometimes without notification or warning. I read WaPo online, and sometimes I come across innocuous edits here and there, but occasionally I’ll come across a whopper of an edit, and seemingly no indication that it was edited.
So I wasn’t exactly surprised when I discovered that [the NYT changed the entire outlook and analysis of an article].
On March 17, the day of the 2015 Israel election, Prime Minister Netanyahu warned Jewish Israelis that Arabs were voting “in droves” (alleging, in a conspiratorial manner reminiscent of white supremacists in the US Jim Crow South, that “Left-wing organizations are busing them out”). Second-class Palestinian citizens voting is supposed to be a very bad thing in Israeli democracy.
The New York Times published an article about the incident—and more generally about Netanyahu’s bigoted, jingoistic, far-right tactics to attract more votes—titled “Netanyahu Expresses Alarm That Arab Voter Turnout Could Help Unseat Him.” The piece was written by Isabel Kershner and Rick Gladstone. At least, for the moment, that was the case. Several hours later, the NYT published a rewrite of the article—a rewrite not just of parts of it, but of all of it. According the the website NewsDiffs which tracks edits to “highly-placed articles on online news sites,” between 5:13 pm and 9:08 pm on March 17 100% of the article was re-written to mostly erase the focus on Netanyahu’s racism.
I follow the news in that part of the world fairly closely, and this morning, people were lauding the article, and it’s interesting to see that article shift completely in tone and conclusion over the course of a single day. I generally tend to think the NYT is better than that. I guess not.