Like many other news organizations, Snopes.com republishes select articles made available to us via our subscription to the Associated Press (AP) news agency. In most cases, subscribing news organizations reproduce AP material exactly as it is offered, but on occasion they may make small changes to AP content, such as rewording headlines, adding related illustrations, or editing for length.
In December 2018, AP offered readers a fairly anodyne article about actress Julia Roberts‘ then-latest film, “Ben Is Back,” and her other recent work. Since part of the story touched upon the more complex types of film roles available to Roberts as she entered her 50s, AP assigned the headline “Julia Roberts finds life (and her roles) get better with age.”
Unfortunately, one newspaper that republished this AP story — the Post-Journal of Jamestown, New York — made an alteration to the headline that was small in nature, but large in import. Changing a single letter lent the article a rather unexpected and salacious sexual slant:
The Post-Journal published a terse correction notice the following day, without explaining how or why the altered form of the headline (“Julia Roberts finds life and her holes get better with age”) managed to slip out in the first place:
— elizabeth (@eadavisus) December 9, 2018
The incident could be aptly summed up by a line famously uttered by Roberts’ character, Vivian Ward, to a saleswoman who had failed to take her seriously as a customer (and thus missed out on a commission) in the 1990 blockbuster “Pretty Woman”: