A profile story which initially described a man as a chiropractor running a school about osteopathy was changed this week to make two significant corrections.
The story on the business education hub was part of a series about how people use their MBA. The reporter searched online for MBA and chiropractor, found Shahin Pourgol of Toronto and decided to write a profile. She then went to his school and wrote about it.
But a second Google search of his name minus the MBA reference shows (on the first page) a link to a disciplinary decision by the College of Chiropractors. There was no reference to this decision initially in the story. The reporter told her editor that she did not see that article through her search.
The article also initially quoted Mr. Pourgol saying he received an MBA and PhD received online through the National University of Medical Sciences based in Madrid. The article initially did not mention a personal connection to the school. On his home page (the first link when I searched his name) at the top is a photo with the statement that he is the founder and president of the NUMSS (along with two other businesses/schools). There is a link to NUMSS: the National University of Medical Sciences based in Madrid.
That personal link to the school and the reference to the College of Chiropractors have now been included in the updated article.
They are important points especially in an article about a person's credentials.
The article now includes the fact that the College of Chiropractors of Ontario said he was disciplined in 2010 for "professional misconduct" after the man admitted he used several names in providing services. Also in 2012 he was reprimanded for calling himself an osteopath, a title given only to members of the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ontario. It is now also clear that his post-graduate degrees came from a Madrid-based school which he founded and owns.
This information is now included in the article, but was not originally.
Mr. Pourgol said he retired as a chiropractor in 2014. The headline referring to a chiropractor was changed to practitioner and the information from the College of Chiropractors added.
Senior editor Simon Beck said there are several lessons to take away from this. The first is that online searches need to be more thorough to find out key details; all credentials should be checked and double-checked and finally a journalist must question and probe what is being said for any article.
I agree that journalists cannot just take statements at face value and must make a real effort to verify their facts. And if a statement cannot be independently verified, it should be attributed.
The initial online search to find the story "MBA and chiropractor" was a reasonable start, but there needed to be more searches on the person and the school.
Correcting the record is a good thing, but this information was public and not hidden.