On April 27, the progressive news and commentary site Refinery 29 published an article summarizing the findings from a recent study about the amount of women being played on country radio, accidentally misplacing a decimal point in one of the key findings from the study, and mischaracertizing the ratio of men being played to women as 44 to 1 instead of 4.4 to 1 as the study had found.
In an article titled “Want To Hear A Woman On Country Radio? You’ll Have To Sit Through 44 Songs By Men First,” Refinery 29 not only falsely represented the study’s findings, this incorrect title and information was then rebroadcast through both the Yahoo! and MSN news networks, along being tweeted and retweeted out by numerous outlets and individuals.
Below find screenshots of the original articles and titles from Refinery 29, Yahoo!, and MSN.
As well as the false titles of these articles, the body of the article also reinforced the false information about the ratio of men to women being 44 to 1 on country radio.
Shortly after the article was posted on April 27th, Refinery 29‘s own readers picked up on the error, and alerted the publication through the site’s comments section.
On Monday, April 29th while Saving Country Music was doing research on reactions to the study, it discovered the false information and published an article correcting the errors published by Refinery 29. However despite being notified by numerous individuals—including their own readers—the false headline and story remained on Refinery 29 until Wednesday, May 1st—four days after it was first published—when the publication finally changed the title of the article to, “Want To Hear A Woman on Country Radio? You’ll Have To Sit Though A Lot Of Songs By Men First.” However Refinery 29 still did not change the false information contained in the article itself, which still incorrectly claims the ratio of men to women on country radio is 44 to 1.
Refinery 29 also did not explain why the title was changed or offer a public correction, they simply put at the bottom of the article, “This headline has been updated for clarity.” Refinery 29 has also not notified their partners at Yahoo! or MSN of the title correction, both outlets still have the original title live on the article, along with all three articles still serving clearly false information in the body of the article.
By changing the title of the article on Refinery 29, the outlet acknowledged they are aware of the false reporting present in the story. Perhaps at the beginning, it was simple human error that had led to the mistake. But now they know better, yet are making no effort to correct the false information beyond making the original title more ambiguous.
The next question is, why is Refinery 29 and its partners at Yahoo! and MSN continuing to willfully serve false information to the public about this important study on the representation of women on country radio?