The Washington Post just wrote the mother of all corrections.
The newspaper published the 579-word mea culpa on a July 23 article Wednesday — so long that it is more than one-fifth the length of the original story, had to be separated out into 15 bullet points and jumps from the first page of the print edition into the food section, according to the Washingtonian.
The article by Korsha Wilson — titled “Black families once lived off their southern farmland. Their descendants are struggling to hold onto it” — “contained many errors and omitted context and allegations important to understanding two families’ stories,” the paper said.
The story details the struggles of two families — the Freemans and the Terrys — to keep their family farms.
Among the many issues with the story: The first name of one Freeman was misspelled; the number of children he had with his second wife “was eight, not 10”; and another family member “did not buy 170 acres with his siblings in 1963,” but rather “his parents bought the 150-acre property in 1961,” the correction said.
Yet another relative died four years earlier than the original article reported.
“Contrary to what was reported in the initial article, (Emanuel) Freeman Sr.’s grandson, Johnny, did not refuse to move off a Halifax, Va., sidewalk for a white woman; he was talking to her, which drew the ire of some white locals, including the Ku Klux Klan,” the correction went on.
“When a crowd gathered at the Freeman home where Johnny fled, gunfire was exchanged, and one family member’s home was set ablaze,” the correction said.
In a statement to the Washingtonian, Post executive editor Martin Baron said the paper was “embarrassed by the widespread errors in this freelance article.”
“We have published a detailed correction of each error and updated the story based on re-reporting by Post staff.”
The paper said the correction “is all we have to share.”
Wilson, a freelancer who has had bylines in Bon Appetit, Food & Wine and the New York Times, did not return calls for comment.