NY Times Admits Fault in Inaccurate Salmon Story

     One, two, three strikes you’re out? That’s not quite how it goes with The New York Times. It’s more like the third time’s a charm.


     The paper acknowledged May 13 that a March 27 story, “Salmon Virus Indicts Chile’s Fishing Methods,” misidentified security guard Adolfo Flores as the Port Director of Castro, ChiloeIsland:


Editors’ Note: An article on March 27 reported on a virus, infectious salmon anemia, or I.S.A., killing millions of salmon cultivated for export by Chile’s salmon farming industry. It quoted an official at the port of Castro, Chile, describing bags of fish food stored at the facility by Marine Harvest, a Norwegian company, as containing antibiotics, pigments and hormones. The official, Adolfo Flores, identified himself as the port director. He in fact worked as a security guard, The Times learned subsequently. Had The Times been aware of his actual position at the time, it would not have cited him as an authority on the contents of the bags, which were labeled medicated food. The article also should have noted that Marine Harvest and SalmonChile, an industry association, deny that they use hormones or that the pigments they use pose any risk to consumers.”


     Despite the “Editor’s Note” from the Times, a spokesman for a salmon industry group expressed his disbelief that a Times report would have been gullible enough to have been convinced a security guard was the port’s director.


      “We still think their claim that the security guard lied to them is dubious – and harder still to believe that any decent reporter would have been fooled that way,” Jim McCarthy said in an e-mail to the Business & Media Institute on May 13, speaking on behalf of the Salmon of the Americas Inc., a group that represents the salmon industry. “[N]ever mind the fact that the security guard had absolutely no reason to deceive the reporter.”


     The reporter, Alexei Barrionuevo, had already been found to have plagiarized on two separate occasions by Slate.com’s Jack Shafer, first in a February 27 article posted on Slate.com by Jack Shafer and again on March 5.