Monday, March 10, 2008

Retraction Of Ikea Imperialism Article

You know that Ikea Imperialism article that I linked to? The one where Danish names are used for doormats, while Swedish names are used for fancy couches?

The article has been retracted.

Apparently, accoding to the original linked article:

Last week, SPIEGEL ONLINE published an article about IKEA products named after Danish cities. We regret that we must retract the article because of inaccurate reporting. We apologize for the error.

In the article originally published at this address, SPIEGEL falsely reported that Danish researchers Klaus Kjøller and Trøls Mylenberg had conducted a "thorough analysis" of the naming conventions at Swedish furniture maker IKEA. In fact, Kjøller was approached by a journalist from the free daily Nyhedsavisen who had inquired about why apparently inferior IKEA products had been given the names of Danish towns.

Kjøller answered the question, but says he was very surprised by the "extremely exaggerated" article that appeared on the cover of Nyhedsavisen the following day, which would later get picked up by other media in Denmark and abroad, including SPIEGEL ONLINE.

"The story sounds good, but it unfortunately isn't true," Kjøller told SPIEGEL ONLINE on Monday. The author of the article and the editorial staff failed to contact Kjøller prior to the publication of the article.

I found out about the article via OrgTheory, and posted this a couple of days ago. I never would have thought to check again to see if it was still valid, except that Prof. Rebecca Tushnet linked to my post and I found out about the retraction through her blog. As Prof. Tushnet says:

[F]ollowing the links leads to a retraction, perhaps because of more stringent European defamation laws. Apparently the analysis was not "thorough" as initially reported. (It does not appear that Danish names actually appear on prestige products, as far as the reporting indicates.) Another notable feature of the retraction is that it appears at the web address of the initial story. In this way, web publication allows for much better error correction, even as it means that errors can propagate quickly around the internet. If people follow the links to the initial source, web corrections are an improvement on publication in a subsequent edition of a paper or magazine.



Thanks to Prof. Tushnet for the clarification, and for the insightful comments on the power (and perils) of web publication.

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