Today: How a Washington Post Reporter & Star Editor Purposely Dodged Correction Bullet

One of the comments on yesterday’s story about Plaza panhandler Jerry Mazer’s demise referred to my having blown him up…

That my writing about Mazer’s travails over the years elevated his profile and status in KC.

I won’t argue that, other than to note Mazer had already blown himself up.

By knocking Kansas City on its butt and getting a discriminatory, Plaza-backed, panhandler-ban booted off the books. Mazer was front page news before I laid a glove him.

Back to Mazer’s victory.

Washington Post  reporter Tom Jackman – then at the Star – screwed up and misspelled Mazer’s first name in a major news story.

Jackman spelled it "Gerry" instead of Jerry, because he wasn’t able to track Mazer down for an interview. I knew the correct spelling, but because of Jackman’s uncorrected error, the copy desk at the Star wouldn’t allow me to spell it correctly in my column.

No matter how strongly I protested, the copy desk would not yield. They assumed Jackman was right, and insisted on spelling it incorrectly in the newspaper.

So at the complete last minute – right before the FYI section went to print – I tracked Jerry down in midtown, drove him to the Star and led him into the newsroom to Miriam Pepper’s desk. That while editors and reporters alike marveled in shock and awe at Jerry’s disheveled, less-than-clean celebrity.

There I had him correctly spell his name to Miriam and point out Jackman’s error.

The copy desk finally folded and Mazer’s first name went into my column correctly spelled.

The flip side of the story: Miriam never could make Jackman eat the correction. And it remains in the Star’s electronic library dead wrong to this day.

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10 Responses to Today: How a Washington Post Reporter & Star Editor Purposely Dodged Correction Bullet

  1. Not Wrong says:

    One of the worst thing about those butt munchers down there at the stupid ass Star is they erase the news stories from their pages was too quickly, I have stopped saving links to their stories. Actuall this brings up the reason why I kind of hate electronic media/news/info…. I hate it because it is changeable / moldable / eraseable…… there is no permanent record…. Most News outlets are not as bad (or as quick to delte) as the Star, but I imagine they will more and more…….

    After I read a story and absorb the info…..I sometimes reference that info wh talking with people…. and sometimes they may doubt somethinng about the info…….so I say “well lets look it up I could be wrong”….. but if i read it at the KCSTAR’s website….it is useless……

    Unfortunately, the page you requested isn’t available.

  2. rocko says:

    Hearne: – I stand corrected about you blowing Jerry Mazer

    Yep, Mr. Mazer did gain prominence AFTER the lawsuit –

    This incident occurred during his “downtown” days, near 8th Cherry. Seeing his name in your column just jogged an old memory, of my one and only “verbal” encounter with Mazer.

    I do recall in later years passing by him in front of the Plaza library, and on the Plaza proper. While I generally ignore panhandlers,I’d usually slip him some spare change – – had some little guilt feelings over being a dick to him that one time.

    R.I.P., Jerry.

  3. Tom Jackman says:

    All baloney
    Tom Jackman here. This post is almost complete baloney. First, I never heard of any of this. No one ever told me I misspelled Mazer’s name. If they did, I would’ve printed a correction. Why would I fight that? What’s right is right. Second, I can hardly believe that the copy desk “assumed Jackman was right.” That’s ridiculous. I was no great Pillar of the Newsroom, then or now. If anyone had asked, I’m sure they’d have called me up, and I would’ve said to get it right. I didn’t have to do many corrections, unlike some people.
    And then for Hearne to say he brought Mazer into the newsroom, for the sole purpose of verifying his name, is either psychotic behavior or total bullshit. I never heard about that either, which makes me think it was the latter.

  4. Gerald Bostock says:

    One part that is true
    I have it on good authority that the photograph at the top is indeed one of Tom Jackman, so that nudges up Hearne’s accuracy percentage a little, doesn’t it?

  5. Hearne Christopher says:

    Tom, why don’t you give Miriam a call and ask her if that’s not what happened. It’s been a while, but your news story spelled his first name “Gerry” not “Jerry” as he spelled it. You can check that too while you’re not doing anything.

    I remember bemoaning this frustrating exercise with another Jerry at the time – Jerry Heaster. He thought it was somewhat funny and couldn’t believe I couldn’t get the editors to allow me to spell it correctly. But that’s exactly what happened.

    You can view it as psychotic if you like, but it was either that or knowingly have to re-misspell Mazer’s name, which I was not about to do if I could possibly avoid it.

    So your point now is that you never knew that you had spelled Mazer’s name wrong? That’s fair. Why Miriam never fed you a correction is a whole nother matter. As I recall though, they did call you or your editor and the response was his lawyer had given you the spelling. Because his proper name was Gerald. Which, as Heaster pointed out then, was a good guess but not the right one.

    Glad to see you’re still in the game in D.C.

  6. Hearne says:

    Kinda hate to do this to you Tom, but you asked for it…
    Here’s is one of like three examples where Jackman misspelled Jerry Mazer’s name from the Star library. You should have checked this before you called me out, big guy. Read it and weep.

    “City, can you spare a ‘small sum’? KC backs away from annoying panhandler, chooses to settle his lawsuit out of court.
    TOM JACKMAN Staff Writer

    Gerry Mazer won. The annoying Kansas City panhandler, who sued Kansas City in January to challenge the city’s 40-year-old law that banned begging, has been paid “a small sum of money. ” The city also has agreed to repeal the anti-begging ordinance, lawyers said Tuesday.

    Read more:

  7. Hearne says:

    This is getting comical
    Jackman misspelled Mazer’s name in four MAJOR news stories over a period of several months. None of which were corrected to this day in the Star library. Four errors in less than a year; Tom would have gone to “correction school,” been severely reprimanded in his annual evaluation and possibly been put on probation or worse.

    As for why then reader rep Miriam Pepper didn’t correct Jackman’s error when Mazer laid it out to her face, guess what? Pepper would have had to write a correction too! For her January 21, 1996 story under the headline, “Front-page story champions panhandler, readers contend.” Yep. Miriam screwed up and misspelled it “Gerry” as well. As did editorial section writer Barb Shelly (twice) and reporter Scott Canon.

    In all Jackman’s error set in motion nine incorrect spellings of Mazer’s name. Including front-page misspellings. Which is why it should have been corrected the minute I dragged Mazer into the newsroom and he told Miriam the Star had it wrong.

    Journalistic ethics be damned, Pepper willfully failed to correct it and I believe Tom that she didn’t notify him.

    I think we all know why she didn’t, here’s why she should have.

    On December 22, 2010 – less than three months ago – Star reporter Glenn Rice misspelled it again! Referencing Jackman’s uncorrected errors 15 years earlier.

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how history gets messed up.

  8. Hearne Christopher says:

    try finishing my quote, dude: “correctly spelled.”

    perhaps you’ll enjoy the comments more.

  9. Hearne says:

    Let the record show that Jackman’s now officially speechless
    When you have – as Star editor OJ Nelson used to say – a four bagger error, what’s left to say?

  10. Sick of Hearne says:

    Who cares?
    So, bascially this whole thing is about you still being bitter? I hate the Star, too, but when are you going to get over it?

    Oh, and when are you going to learn to write. Sometimes it’s hard to decide who’s worse, you or Craig. And that’s bad.

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