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NY Times confuses Penn State with Penn … Penn students not amused

Nov 9, 2011, 12:15 PM EDT


As anyone who has written for the New York Times can testify, the editors there have a special variety of journalism OCD that is both terrible and breathtaking to behold. They are an entirely new species of human dedicated to wringing all the joy and character out of the written word and reducing it to Ebenezer Scrooge’s parchment balance sheet. Or if you prefer, picture their editors as the goblins at Gringotts Bank. That’s why it’s so amazing that they would let something like this slip through.

In Maureen Dowd’s NY Times column on the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal on Tuesday, both the headline and a mention in the copy referred to “Penn State” as “Penn.” The headline is pictured above. And the last graph of her column reads:

“I can only hope that by the time Anthony’s parents work up their nerve to have what they call “the conversation” with him about his fallen idol, St. Joe and the other Penn scoundrels will have been ignominiously cast out of what turns out to be a not-so-Happy Valley.”

Penn and Penn State are, of course, two entirely different establishments. The former is the University of Pennsylvania, a private school located in Philadelphia. The latter is The Pennsylvania State University, a public school in University Park, about three hours away. Penn students and alumni were quick to point this out today. From the Penn blog Under the Button:

Homegirl is trashing our reputation! The mistake has been corrected on the Times’ website, but seriously, world, stop confusing us with the brouhaha at Penn State. Maureen Dowd, if you’re reading this, you should apologize to our entire University immediately. Then come give an awesome talk on campus to make up for it.

And as the Atlantic Wire points out, both the Contra Costa Times (Northern Calif.) and the Daily Breeze (Los Angeles) made the same headline mistake. As of this writing, the CCTimes’ headline is still uncorrected.
The Dowd column has been corrected online.

Students: scandal is at Penn State, not Penn [NBC Sports]

  1. alligatorsnapper - Nov 9, 2011 at 1:58 PM

    Maureen Dowd is a self-absorbed leftist whom the editors love at the New York rag. Hasn’t the paper filed for bankruptcy? Is it still viable? Who reads that trash? Of course, leftists are supposed to be all squishy, full of the milk of human kindness and compassion for everyone, but generally it is just the opposite. Dowd gets it wrong again. Why should that be a suprise to anyone? The worse scandal in academia and Dowd an academic to many would get it wrong? Children are raped and molested by a coach for Penn State on the Penn State and state of Pennsylvania payroll and a 28 year old graduate assistant is an eyewitness to one rape of a young boy by this coach and right hand man to Coach Joe Paterno and the graduate assistant does not stop the rape, does not bring the young boy to the police, does not call the police, does not get help for the young boy, or law to the pervert child predator/rapist. Then Penn State personnel began to ignore the problem and/or cover it up, not restraining the rapist from contacts with children which he maintains many more years. Clean house Governor and Trustees! Clean house! Get therapy and assistance for the young adults who were raped and molested when they were children. Move quickly now since it took you over 10 years to wake up to this horror and scandal!

  2. burgundyandgold - Nov 9, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    Dope – you probably cannot read words more that five characters long. Stick to Fox News.

  3. mrvandy212 - Nov 9, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    If we want to get technical here, you are referring to the Ivy League university in Philadelphia as “Pennsylvania University”. The correct name is “University of Pennsylvania”. So if you’re going to get on someone else’s case about stating the incorrect name of a university, then you should make sure you don’t do it as well!!! You’re mistake is just as big as hers. Try telling one of those Ivy League students that they go to Pennsylvania University!

    • Rick Chandler - Nov 9, 2011 at 3:11 PM

      >>You’re mistake is just as big as hers<<

      Um … never mind.

      • schiver - Nov 9, 2011 at 9:02 PM

        Real professional Rick. Let’s brush off your obvious mistake by putting down a mere commenter on the article. You are supposed to be a “professional” but I think we can all see how much of a hack you are with your coverage of most of the crap you write. I honestly don’t know why I follow this blog anymore.

      • Land Snark - Nov 10, 2011 at 9:14 AM


  4. theregularguy10 - Nov 9, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    Penn is the University of Pennsylvania. It’s never called Pennsylvania University.

  5. Bobby Metzinger - Nov 9, 2011 at 3:48 PM

    Actually, if anyone of you spent a day in a news room, you would know that Dowd filed the story and her copy editors created the headline. If anything, yell at the copy editors.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Nov 9, 2011 at 4:03 PM

      But who wrote the last paragraph when she referred to the offending school as “Penn”?

    • drmonkeyarmy - Nov 9, 2011 at 4:03 PM

      But who wrote the last paragraph when she referred to the offending school as “Penn”?

  6. savoirlaire - Nov 9, 2011 at 4:58 PM

    God, this is such an amateurish mistake on the part of the Times. And since they are all liberal Ivy League wonks, you would think they could at least get this right (btw, I went to Penn).

  7. yournuts - Nov 11, 2011 at 10:41 AM

    The NY Times has been an real rag for a number of years now. Once a great newspaper it has turned into trash.

  8. mogogo1 - Nov 16, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    Fact checking and copy editing have basically disappeared from newspapers as they’ve been thinning staff over the past decade. It’s amazing given the story has been on the news non-stop that Dowd would confuse PSU and Penn. It’s even more amazing that anyone could read over her column and not catch that mistake. And then, the final disaster was somebody going with the error in the headline. Absolute no comprehension or oversight at all.