Why so many mistakes in a ‘routine’ profile? Not even the editor can explain what happened

The Napa Valley Register says there were “a number of errors” – I count about 18 – in its Inside Napa Valley magazine profile of gallery owner Christopher Hill, including these:

Christopher Hill never lived in Germany. He was born in Berkeley and raised in Danville.

Hill began his art career in 1995 at age 24, not 27, in San Jose, not Graz, Austria.

Hill prefers the term “art gallery,” rather than “art studio.”
His daughter is not an accomplished equestrian, rather she is an avid one.

The Chamber of Commerce did not name Hill “The Opinionator” and Hill never said, “I suppose I am.”

Hill said his interest in St. Helena is community-wide, not just personal.

He never said, “We offer much more than vineyard scenes. And we’re very informal – no suits or ties.”

“The Crushers” is a St. Helena men’s softball team, which Hill sponsors and manages. “The Shockers” is a Napa Junior Girls softball team, which he also sponsors.

So what the heck happened here?

“I still don’t have a complete answer,” Register editor Sean Scully tells Romenesko readers. “The article was for an ad-driven glossy magazine that we publish quarterly, known as Inside Napa Valley. It was prepared by an occasional freelancer for the St. Helena Star, one of our weekly newspapers.

Christopher Hill

Christopher Hill

“After the article appeared this week, Christopher contacted the editor in St. Helena to complain about a number of factual errors and quotes he insisted he did not say. We do know that the freelancer did in fact interview Christopher, but it is still not clear how he came up with the erroneous information or disputed quotes.

“Like most newspapers, we don’t have a fact-checking department. We have on occasion done separate fact checking on a story where a matter is particular sensitive or we have some reason to suspect that the information might not be reliable, but this was a routine profile story by a freelancer we were familiar with.”

* For the record: Christopher Hill profile corrections (napavalleyregister.com)