49 Times Vox Got It Wrong in 2014

AP/Charles Dharapak
AP/Charles Dharapak

Vox, Ezra Klein’s new progressive news site, had a tough first year.

As Deadspin points out in a piece published Tuesday, every news site makes mistakes in a rush to get the story. What’s unique about Vox is “not their errors, but the magnitude of those errors.” Deadspin summarizes the situation bluntly: “Vox repeatedly crapped the bed in 2014.” This is followed by a list with 46 examples of corrections to Vox stories. As you’ll see below, Deadspin left out a few.

1. Headline: 11 crucial facts to understand the Israel-Gaza crisis

Correction: An earlier version of this post suggested there was a bridge connecting Gaza and the West Bank. Various plans to do this have been floated, but the bridge was never actually built.

2. Headline: Boulder’s houses have more toilets than people

Correction: The first chart in an earlier version of this post said it listed the number of toilets per capita, not per 100 people. Clearly that was wrong — 102 toilets for every 1 Boulder resident would be way too many.

3. Original Headline: Tonight will be the longest night in the history of Earth

Corrected Headline: Correction: Tonight will not be the longest night in the history of Earth. It was in 1912.

Correction: This article originally said that, due to the rotation of the Earth gradually slowing down over time, this winter solstice would feature the longest night ever.

I got this wrong. The Earth’s rotation is gradually slowing on an extremely long timescale, but on a shorter year-to-year basis, geologic factors can alter the speed as well.

Data indicates that the rotation speed has actually sped up slightly over the past forty years, likely due to melting of ice at the poles and the resulting redistribution of the Earth’s mass. So, as far as we know, the longest night in Earth’s history likely occurred in 1912. I apologize for the error. Thanks to Steve Allen and Ryan Hardy for pointing it out.

The only problem with Deadspin’s list is that it obviously overlooks some mistakes that didn’t get formal corrections (or any correction at all). For instance, who can forget this Max Fisher post which (as Sonny Bunch points out) was originally headlined “Hong Kong’s protesters are using the ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ gesture from Ferguson.” There’s no correction explaining it but Vox changed the headline (and the story) when it became clear the protesters in Hong Kong probably hadn’t heard about what was happening in Ferguson and weren’t intentionally adopting their pose.

Then there are the posts which Vox should change but doesn’t. I pointed out how Max Fisher mocked the idea that ISIS fighters believe they will receive 72 virgins in paradise on the same day an ex-ISIS fighter gave an interview confirming that’s what was being taught in training camps. Max Fisher also claimed that Jews moved to Hebron as part of the Zionist movement. The Washington Post’s David Berstein pointed out this was wrong and asked Fisher to correct it. The site refused to correct or, apparently, to offer any explanation.

Then there was the claim by another Vox author that the surge of children at the border began before Obama’s executive action on immigration (proving his actions didn’t cause the influx). That was false, as I demonstrated here but, despite sending the proof to the author, Vox still has a page claiming there is no evidence of a connection.

Mistakes are inevitable, but the number and magnitude of Vox’s mistakes seems significant for a site that hasn’t existed for a full year and especially one that purports to offer readers all they need to know about everything.


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