Associated Press Apologizes for Its Coverage of the Irish Orphanage Story

Associated Press Apologizes for Its Coverage of the Irish Orphanage Story June 20, 2014


Associated Press has issued an apology for its errant reporting regarding claims of a mass grave for children of unwed mothers on the grounds of Tuam Home, an Irish home for unwed mothers.

Since the disturbing story broke early this month regarding the Tuam Home for unwed mothers in Ireland, where 796 babies were purportedly “dumped into a septic tank”,  the Patheos bloggers have been on the case.

I had, early on, been concerned that the facts might not be as reported.  I didn’t blog about it here, but over on Facebook, we had a spirited discussion in which I encouraged people to relax and wait for facts:  Had the Irish Sisters been simply overwhelmed, with no one available to help them bury the bodies of the children who died?  Was the burial site, in fact, not a “septic tank” as AP reported, but a cylindrical brick burial chamber, common in Ireland at the time?  Were there really “no more than 20” babies buried at that site?

Pia de Solenni has followed the horror story and reported carefully.  Deacon Greg Kandra reported as the story began to evolve.  Frank Weathers helped to clarify, as new reports emanated from Ireland where Catherine Corless, local historian, took issue with some of the early reports.  Rebecca Hamilton called on Catholics and everyone to wait patiently for the facts to sift out.  

Today, though, was the big day:  Today, after being challenged by America Magazine, Associated Press issued an apology for its skewed reporting.  The Associated Press correction read:

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.

Now we wait.  Will Salon, the Washington Post, the New York Times, FoxNews and other media outlets which carried the incendiary reports follow suit and issue apologies and retractions?

Don’t hold your breath.

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