Anatomy of an Error

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Tracing the source of my previous mistake

I don't like getting my facts wrong at any time, especially within the context of an opinion piece (as I did in my previous post). It invites the prodigious wrath of people like Bob Wakeham who is not exactly bashful about speaking his mind and the scorn of his friends, one of whom likens me to a "budding journalist".

So I spent some time trying to figure out how I allowed such an error to creep into my commentary. After all, it is essential for opinion pieces to turn on points of fact, and I am usually pretty careful in getting my facts right.

I wrote an extensive profile of Wakeham in 2004, and my recent error has its roots in that piece, which was nearly 2,000 words long. It was the result of a lengthy interview, during which we discussed the wide arc of his career, and here is how I summarized his latter days at the network:

Wakeham climbed the corporate ladder quickly at CBC TV in spite of or perhaps because of his stubborn, hard-nosed style. He served as executive producer akin to being managing editor of a newspaper with "Here & Now", "On Camera" and "Soundings" before moving up to Area Executive Producer, in charge of the whole shooting match.

You can see my mistake, if you compare that summary to Wakeham's own account in Monday's post. I don't think we discussed these points in any great detail it was my own (incorrect) recollection of the sequence of events. No one corrected me on the error at the time, and understandably so, it being a fairly minor point (or so it must have seemed at the time). Thus it drifted, submerged like a sea mine in the quiet depths of my archive, waiting for me to make contact and set it off.

I should have googled Wakeham's name before writing the post. Had I done so, I would have turned up this excellent piece from John Gushue, written on the occasion of Wakeham's retirement party (and also containing the correct chronology).

As my own profile of Wakeham makes clear, I do have tremendous respect for the man. And I have been enjoying his columns in The Telegram. In fact, this debate about Here & Now is one of the few occasions that I've disagreed with him.

But disagree I do.

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  • Bob
    July 27, 2010 - 14:53

    Some guys are born with a chip on their shoulders. In Bob's case it was and still is a piece of 2 x 4.