The NY Times Does Geography: Which Goes On Top, North Or South?

We have had a lot of fun with the New York Times’s Corrections section over the years. The corrections document an extraordinary lack of knowledge on the part of the paper’s reporters, and, presumably, its editors as well. When it comes to history, mathematics, literature, science, geography and pretty much everything else, the Times’s reporters and editors are frighteningly sub-par. My impression is that they consider themselves something of an elite, but the reality is that they may want to go back to high school to brush up.

The latest comes from the paper’s Saturday edition. This correction is appended to an article on states that have permitted medical marijuana:

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 4, 2014

An earlier version of a map with this article reversed the locations of North and South Dakota.

This is the map, as corrected; the version with South Dakota bordering Canada would be a collector’s item, but I haven’t been able to find it:


UPDATE: A reader came up with the original map. Too funny!


Here’s the thing: I can understand how a fuzzy-headed Times reporter might lose track of which is on top, Kentucky or Tennessee. But North and South Dakota? Really? Do Times reporters and editors not know that North is at the top of the map? How many Times employees saw the map with South Dakota bordering Canada before the error went into print?

I can only think of one explanation: remember those liberal maps of some years ago, that were printed with South at the top and North at the bottom? The idea was to shake up kids’ perceptions by showing them a different perspective on the world. Nothing wrong with that–it was actually kind of fun to see the world upside-down, so to speak. But maybe a NY Times reporter got so caught up in liberal cartography that he forgot that South Dakota is, in fact, South of North Dakota. All I know is, it would never have happened in an elementary school geography class when I was a kid growing up in South Dakota.


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