Associated Press Issues Correction Based on America Query

After our June 18 report on baptismal certificates recorded in Tuam, I queried the Associated Press regarding their stories on the Tuam Mothers and Babies Home.

Today AP issued the following correction:

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Ireland-Children’s Mass Graves story

DUBLIN (AP) — In stories published June 3 and June 8 about young children buried in unmarked graves after dying at a former Irish orphanage for the children of unwed mothers, The Associated Press incorrectly reported that the children had not received Roman Catholic baptisms; documents show that many children at the orphanage were baptized. The AP also incorrectly reported that Catholic teaching at the time was to deny baptism and Christian burial to the children of unwed mothers; although that may have occurred in practice at times it was not church teaching. In addition, in the June 3 story, the AP quoted a researcher who said she believed that most of the remains of children who died there were interred in a disused septic tank; the researcher has since clarified that without excavation and forensic analysis it is impossible to know how many sets of remains the tank contains, if any. The June 3 story also contained an incorrect reference to the year that the orphanage opened; it was 1925, not 1926.

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Tim O'Leary
3 years 11 months ago
So, in a couple of weeks, based on hearsay, we went from 800 babies thrown without the benefit of sacraments into an anachronistic septic tank, to maybe a few (10-20 at most) skeletons in some crypt stumbled upon by a 10-year boy. Claims of nazi-like nuns (even the word "Holocaust" was used in more than one self-righteous writer), insensitive to both the care of unmarried mothers and the souls of children who died (of natural causes, TB, etc. - but not starvation which was also suggested) under their care, to full lists of the baptized over a 40-year period. How could journalists, and many of the general public, been so gullible? Glad to see the Washington Post correction and the one from AP this am, although an apology would be more appropriate. And what about the anti-Catholic screeds in Irish newspapers, that have yet to apologize? Journalists need to take more personal responsibility for their reports, and when they get a story so badly wrong, there should be some soul searching on why they were so gullible in the first place, and went to print without any fact-checking of their own. I would add that the Wash. Post correction was only halfhearted and was still filled with what I can only describe as deep seated prejudice in modern Irish against their rather recent relatives of only a couple of generations ago. There is today a "guilty-until-proven-innocent" mentality in many ex-faithful Irish when it comes to Catholic religious, especially in Ireland. Until this is fixed we are likely to see more of these scare-stories pop up from time-to-time, only to be followed by a "never-mind" correction, sort of, that will reach a much smaller audience, while the bigoted message becomes the conventional wisdom.
David Smith
3 years 11 months ago
Here's the AP correction, which they start off by saying that they'd "exaggerated [the] horror tale", implying, I think, that there really was a "horror tale" and that they'd merely got a few things wrong: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/E/EU_IRELAND_CHILDRENS_MASS_GRAVES?CTIME=2014-06-20-14-48-31&SECTION=HOME&SITE=AP&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

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