America's forgotten black cowboys, BBC News Online: Finding by the Editorial Complaints Unit

Complaint

A reader made a number of complaints about an article on black cowboys, which accompanied a radio programme on the subject.  Amongst other claims of accuracy and bias he maintained that the article misrepresented the true number of black cowboys in the old west of America.

 

Outcome

The ECU found that a reference by one of the interviewees to the number of black cowboys on the Texas trails (25%) had been understood to refer to the entirety of the old west.  While there is some consensus on this estimate in the case of Texas, this would not hold true in other areas.  The available evidence did not support the claim that a quarter of all cowboys were black, and the article was therefore misleading on a single but material point. 

Partly upheld

 

Further action

Reporters will be reminded that when using quotes from a broadcast interview for another outlet such as online, they ensure the context of the original comment is not lost.

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