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The Guardian Explains Error and “Apologises Unreservedly” to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In its corrections and clarifications section The Guardian has explained how a recent article by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was published in error, and “apologises unreservedly” for the oversight.

Purple HibiscusHalf of a Yellow Sun Americanah

On Saturday, January 31, The Guardian published a non-fiction piece by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about her struggle with depression, but then removed the article on Sunday, leaving a message on the page which explained that it had been published in error. The page was later altered to a more generic “the page you are looking for has been removed” message.

Now, however, the page redirects to the following message:

The author and the author’s agent did not grant permission to The Guardian to publish the piece. The author was still considering whether, when and which publication to give permission to publish the article, and as such the copyright remains with her. The Guardian publication was due to an error. We apologise to the author and to the readers.

The Guardian has also explained that the error was due to an automatic scheduling system on their website, stressing that “new training procedures in place to ensure that such errors do not happen again”.

Read the apology:

On 1 February 2015 at 1204 am, an error led to the online publication of an article on depression by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie without her approval or permission.

After being alerted by Ms Adichie’s agents, the Guardian removed the story from its website. The Guardian would like to make clear that Ms Adichie stands fully behind the piece that she wrote; she had not yet decided whether to publish the piece when it appeared on the Guardian’s website without notice or permission.

The article had been submitted to the Guardian by Ms Adichie’s agents in September 2014. After it was accepted, the Guardian made plans to publish the article in late September as part of the launch of a new features section in the paper. A mock-up of the layout of the article – with sample headlines and pictures – was prepared for both print and online. The author was not consulted about the headline or images used in these mock-ups, which were not intended for publication.

On 8 September, the Guardian was informed that the author did not wish to publish the article at this time. On 17 September, production staff deleted what were believed to be all of the related files from the Guardian’s system. Unfortunately, a copy of the web mock-up still existed in another content management system. This web file, which was created on 4 September 2014, had been set with a launch date of 1 February 2015, as a precaution to prevent it being accidentally published in September before its scheduled appearance. The automatic publication date was triggered on 1 February because editors were unaware of the existence of this version.

The Guardian apologises unreservedly to the author, and has moved to put new training procedures in place to ensure that such errors do not happen again.

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