Journalists’ “Copy”

In common usage the word “copy” means to replicate something. However in journalism it also refers to the main text of an article. Perhaps we can see the double meaning here…

Back in September this blog mentioned an error by the Washington Times in describing the Semipalatinsk Test Site as a vast region the size of Belgium, even though it is only 60% of Belgium’s size.

Now an item by Public Radio International makes the same curious mistake.  “They called this place, a vast testing site the size of Belgium, the Polygon.”

It seems odd that two journalists would independently make the same mistake.

Minkebe National Park is NOT the size of Belgium

There are some myths about the size of Belgium that keep recurring in various news outlets. One of these concerns the Minkebe National Park in Gabon, which already features in this blog on the Bloopers page.

The authority that manages Minkebe park (Parcs Gabon) gives the area as nearly 8000 square kilometres. That’s about one quarter of Belgium.

However The Atlantic website recently reported on the plight of elephants in the park in “Gabon’s Minkebe National Park—a huge protected area the size of Belgium“.

Why do these errors recur? Do journalists copy from each others’ work instead of getting the accurate date from the original source? Surely not!