The Tampa Bay Times screw-up last week regarding reporter Drew Harwell's story on Blackstone purchasing $1 billion worth of properties in the Tampa Bay area was one of the biggest bloopers the local daily has produced in a long time.
But the first official explanation coming from Times senior editors on Wednesday doesn't really provide much clarity about how such a major mistake was made.
To recap: On Friday the Times reported that Blackstone, the New York-based financial services company specializing in private equity and real estate, was going to spend $1 billion in the region's still struggling housing market, buying hundreds of homes a month.
The story was so prominent that a good friend of this reporter, aware of its significance and feeling it worthy of a follow-up, cut the story out and began reading it to me on Saturday morning. But at that same time, I was reading the Times metro page, where Times business editor Graham Brink was reporting that, in fact, Harwell's story wasn't accurate.
The most stunning part of his article was this disclaimer:
The Times did not confirm the details with anyone at Blackstone's headquarters in New York City.
As I turned on my computer, I noted that blogger Peter Schorsch had written about the miscue, and ABC 28 anchorman Brendan McLaughlin had sent out a tweet and a note on his Facebook page about the error.
But what I didn't understand was this: As of early Saturday afternoon, the story remained the most popular on the Times website, and yet there was no mention at all that it was inaccurate.