Author Topic: Just in case you think it's talent: A Rant  (Read 3897 times)

yesno

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Just in case you think it's talent: A Rant
« on: June 07, 2008, 06:35:36 AM »
I realized a while ago that most reporters are professional amateurs who pretty much get every single topic they ever write about wrong in some subtle way.  Most reporters are these liberal arts guys like a lot of us with no reason to know anything in particular about anything.

(I even wrote an interblog about it!  http://www.publicknowledge.org/node/1359)

By this way, this is why I loved picking on the dummy reporters at Slate who were so down on the last season of the Wire for not getting the newsroom Just Right.  It was a taste of their own medicine.  Yet I'm sure they took it on faith that the Wire got, say, Baltimore schools exactly correct.

Nevertheless, just in case you think you get to be a writer for the Wall Street Journal or some other big time place because you have some kind of clue, this has been circulating among the "cool people" squad.

http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/djf500/200806051525DOWJONESDJONLINE000819_FORTUNE5.htm

"Just how will Apple meet expectations? Using the patent application as a guide, Apple appears to be making room on the iPhone for flash memory, which means an end to Apple's standoff with Adobe (ADBE) that's kept iPhones from easily viewing a plethora of Internet videos."

I'm sure that most of my friends and co-workers have no knowledge of or interest in understanding the difference between Adobe Flash and flash memory, but jiminy Christmas they're not writing for what's supposed to be an authoritative newspaper.

Now imagine that sort of basic error, but happening in coverage where it's not obvious to you there's something wrong.  Banking, Iraq.  All coverage of everything is full of these little doozies, I think.

Sarah

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Re: Just in case you think it's talent: A Rant
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2008, 06:40:42 AM »
Agreed.  Anytime I read anything about something about which I actually know something, I encounter mistakes.  And not necessarily about obscure details; often, carelessness/laziness/inattentiveness seem to be at fault.

Fido

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Re: Just in case you think it's talent: A Rant
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2008, 11:42:43 AM »
Financial reporting is notorious for this, probably for the exact reasons that are stated above in this thread: you don't necessarily learn much about financial markets by majoring in English at Brown, unless you go out of your way. In fairness, however, financial markets are getting trickier and trickier to analyze, harder to understand, and are just plain arcane in nature after a certain point. Nevertheless, you can find flaws in thinking and mistaken analysis without really trying too hard or even knowing a lot about them. If I were more of a know-it-all show-off, I'd have a good number of such mistakes in my back pocket for just such an occasion as this.

I am appalled at the spelling mistakes that I just made in typing this message, and now I am really worried that I will have to start carefully proofreading absolutely everything I write.

Shaggy 2 Grote

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Re: Just in case you think it's talent: A Rant
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2008, 12:38:43 PM »
I get mad at the NY Times all the time for the mistakes in their theater coverage.  I'm sure it's rampant throughout the paper.
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yesno

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Re: Just in case you think it's talent: A Rant
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2008, 12:51:41 PM »
I've never given a crap about "bias" in the media about any issue (I *prefer* my media to be biased) but factual errors do bug me, no matter how inevitable I think they are.

A good one is this, http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080527/ap_on_hi_te/scotus_t_mobile, which implies that the Supreme Court not hearing a case that T Mobile wanted them to counts as some kind of "loss" for T Mobile.  Every reporter that has not gone to law school that covers the Supreme Court does this.

Since the Supreme Court only hears fewer than 1% of the cases people petition them to hear, sure, it's a defeat, but then so is losing the lottery.  The Supreme Court not hearing a case doesn't imply that the Supreme Court thinks that the lower court's decision is correct.  It just means they can't be bothered to give a shit, basically.

Martin

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Re: Just in case you think it's talent: A Rant
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2008, 02:14:22 PM »
Our documentary went one step from the source (press release) to a syndicated news story, and in that process it became a "short film about the dot com bubble". So yeah, you're probably right.

scsiduck

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Re: Just in case you think it's talent: A Rant
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2008, 02:18:33 PM »
So wait, can I go on the internet now with my digital camera or not?

yesno

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Re: Just in case you think it's talent: A Rant
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2008, 02:29:32 PM »
Our documentary went one step from the source (press release) to a syndicated news story, and in that process it became a "short film about the dot com bubble". So yeah, you're probably right.

I've been telling people it's a miniseries about eBay professionals. 

Though a dot com bubble short film DOES seem pretty timely, so I'm glad that's what's what you ended up going with.

Sarah

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Re: Just in case you think it's talent: A Rant
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2008, 03:35:26 PM »
I know that most Internet sources do not count as reliable news sources, but I still think it's worth reporting here that of the four or five bits and pieces I read about "The World Is in the Turlet," one reported that TL was in the studio taking calls and another said the whole thing was a fundraising stunt.  Small inaccuracies but telling.  From this teeny-tiny sample enormous blunders can be extrapolated.

Fido

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Re: Just in case you think it's talent: A Rant
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2008, 10:46:19 PM »
Fundraising stunt?!?  How did anyone reach that brilliant conclusion, I wonder?

samir

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Re: Just in case you think it's talent: A Rant
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2008, 01:00:01 PM »
I know that most Internet sources do not count as reliable news sources, but I still think it's worth reporting here that of the four or five bits and pieces I read about "The World Is in the Turlet," one reported that TL was in the studio taking calls and another said the whole thing was a fundraising stunt.  Small inaccuracies but telling.  From this teeny-tiny sample enormous blunders can be extrapolated.

I can proudly report that my brief coverage of this monumental event was entirely accurate. Mind you, I was actually listening to the whole thing, so I had my facts straight.
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emma

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Re: Just in case you think it's talent: A Rant
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2008, 02:33:22 PM »
I know that most Internet sources do not count as reliable news sources, but I still think it's worth reporting here that of the four or five bits and pieces I read about "The World Is in the Turlet," one reported that TL was in the studio taking calls and another said the whole thing was a fundraising stunt.  Small inaccuracies but telling.  From this teeny-tiny sample enormous blunders can be extrapolated.

I can proudly report that my brief coverage of this monumental event was entirely accurate. Mind you, I was actually listening to the whole thing am a shining beacon of journalistic integrity, so I had my facts straight.

fixed

samir

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Re: Just in case you think it's talent: A Rant
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2008, 09:12:16 AM »
well, aren't you sweet!
"Son, there's a thin line between crazed and rabid"


todd

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Re: Just in case you think it's talent: A Rant
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2008, 03:06:07 PM »
What you're describing is one of the big reasons I got out of newspaper reporting. It's nearly impossible to write a 2,000 word article on a subject you knew nothing about until that morning without getting things wrong constantly. That's the idea behind the "beat" system (one reporter covers one topic, so they learn the lay of the land and develop relationships with the key players in the industry), but you can't have beats for everything, and not all theater companies or music scenes are as centralized as city hall or the police station.

I was only in the job for a year, and routinely had people e-mail me with corrections after every story. At first I attributed this to me being inexperienced and not very good at my job - it didn't take me long to realize everyone got these e-mails. Most newspaper stories are filled with logical leaps of faith, with a reporter being tasked to take three different interviews from three different people and cobble these disjointed stories into one coherent narrative. I don't even know if its possible anymore, given the slow, steady decline of ear-to-the-ground journalism in favor of profit-driven, half-assed reporting so prevalent today.