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August 11, 2016 12:28 pm

A New York Times ‘Correction’ Needs Its Own Correction

avatar by Ira Stoll

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A coin with a reference to the Ladino language. Photo: Wikipedia/Pintrest.

A coin with a reference to the Ladino language. Photo: Wikipedia/Pintrest.

How woefully uninformed and inaccurate is the New York Times when it comes to basic Jewish culture and tradition?

The newspaper can’t even get its corrections right.

Today’s Times carries the following correction:

An opera review on July 30 about “The Exterminating Angel” by Thomas Adès, at the Salzburg Festival in Austria, misidentified the source of a set of variations Mr. Adès wrote in the work. It is a song from the Landino tradition of Sephardic Jews, not a song by the 14th-century composer Landini.

The “Landino tradition of Sephardic Jews”??

No entry on that topic in my Encyclopedia Judaica. Nothing in Google, either. The Times almost certainly means Ladino, which is a language of Sephardic Jews. But Ladino is, well, Ladino, not “Landino,” as the Times misspells it in the correction.

In an interview published elsewhere, Mr. Adès explains, “The variations that Blanca performs on the piano in Act One are of course not really by Paradisi but my own variations on the Ladino song ‘Lavaba la blanca niña,’ which has an unassuageable harmonic structure very typical of Jewish music of longing and bereavement.”

Ladino, not “Landino,” got it?

You might think that, having gotten this wrong once already, the Times would be extra careful to get it right the second time around. But no. Maybe all the competent editors over there are on summer vacation?

This one is right up there with previous Times Jewish illiteracy classics such as mistranslating “mitzvah” as blessing (still not corrected). Or the New York Times article from earlier this year headlined, “For Juicy Beef for Your Seder Table, Look Beyond Brisket,” that generated the classic Times correction, suitable for framing in any kosher kitchen: “An earlier version of this article incorrectly implied that beef tenderloin is kosher and appropriate for Passover. It is not kosher, but other cuts of beef that are kosher may be used in the recipe in its place.” It’s as inaccurate as another story requiring another recent Times correction, the one in which the newspaper miscounted the number of pages in the Talmud.

Look forward to the correction of the correction in some future edition of the New York Times. And look forward to more embarrassing corrections from the Times on basic Jewish related matters for as long as the newspaper keeps getting rid of experienced editors through round after round of buyouts, or fails to run articles concerning Jewish matters by an editor with deep Jewish knowledge, or at least one with basic Jewish literacy.

If the Times is looking for a classical music critic who is Jewishly literate, it could try to pick up Jeremy Eichler from the Boston Globe, who is terrific. But alas, it seems like a pretty low priority to the Times.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.  

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