The 1987 voyage of a barge loaded with New York garbage became a sensational fiasco, but it ended up fueling the modern recycling movement.

Dan Rather dubbed it “the most watched load of garbage in the memory of Man.” Johnny Carson joked about it in his nightly comedy routine. It grabbed headlines around the world. But for all the attention, Americans have never heard the full story of the Mobro garbage barge (a.k.a., “the gar-barge,” “the Flying Dutchman of Trash,” “the barge to nowhere,” “the floating hot potato.”) If you weren’t around in 1987 — or just need a reminder — the Mobro carried six million pounds of New York garbage, got turned away from its destination in North Carolina, and spent the next five months adrift – rejected by six states and three foreign countries.

***

***

The New York Times Co. Monday announced a video collaboration with Retro Report, which “Fact-Checks Yesterday’s News,” in the words of a Times release. The videos will run on the Times’ Booming blog.

Future reports will take on crack babies — “we learn that warnings in the 1980s about these children being damaged for life were not supported by the research of the time or by more recent studies,” Michael Winerip writes — and the Tawana Brawley story.

Retro Report says it combines “documentary techniques with shoe-leather reporting” because “the first draft of history can be wrong.”

When news organizations fail to invest the time and money required to correct the record or provide context around what really happened, myth can replace truth. The results are policy decisions and cultural trends built on error, misunderstanding or flat-out lies. via Poynter

Advertisements