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[P]
Blaming the Tools in NYT's Misconduct Story

By jellied in Media
Tue May 13, 2003 at 04:59:39 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

The May 11 New York Times includes a detailed, riveting account of the journalistic misconduct of reporter Jayson Blair, who resigned at the beginning of the month. It's an amazing article for the story it tells and for the candor with which that sometimes-opaque institution searches its own conscience for answers and goes about setting things straight.

Because Blair is black and his early advances at The Times can be linked directly to diversity initiatives, some people will probably interpret his story as another sign of the unresolved tension between merit and equal opportunity in the U.S.

But reading the article, I'm struck by its undercurrent of alarm about the dangers of technology as a means of journalistic shortcuts and easy deception.


According to The Times account, Blair relied on his cellphone, his laptop email account and remote access to the paper's digital system of unpublished photos to manufacture credible details and obscure his whereabouts to editors and colleagues. When he was supposed to be meeting with relatives of Private Jessica Lynch or officials in the Maryland sniper case, he was often sitting in New York, compiling information from second-hand sources, plagiarizing other papers' stories and "refining a book proposal."

For instance, in March Blair apparently invented a live interview with the family of a Marine scout then in Iraq. He spoke to the family at length on the phone, but the story's dateline and narrative placed him at their Maryland home, and included details like the red, white and blue pansies in the garden:

Some Times photo editors now suspect that Mr. Blair gained access to the digital photos that Doug Mills, the photographer, transmitted that night to The Times's picture department, including photos of the Gardners watching the news, as well as the flowers in their yard.

As he often did, Mr. Blair briefed his editors by e-mail about the progress of his reporting. "I am giving them a breather for about 30 minutes," he wrote to the national editor, Jim Roberts, at one point, referring to the Gardners. "It's amazing timing. Lots of wrenching ups and downs with all the reports of casualties."

It looked like great reporting to Jim Roberts, a Times national editor who told colleagues he was pleased with Blair's work on the interview.
... this reporter was demonstrating hustle and flair. [Roberts] had no reason to know that Mr. Blair was demonstrating a different sort of enterprise.

He was actually e-mailing from New York.

Awful, right? Well, sure. Like the article says, "Mr. Blair repeatedly violated the cardinal tenet of journalism, which is simply truth."

But I also hear some melodrama in the above revelation of Blair's electronically-concealed whereabouts. One-sentence paragraphs add a dramatic charge to prose, as anyone who's ever read Stephen King knows.

It is a great piece of reporting. The five Times reporters and two researchers deserve nothing but praise, as do the publisher and the senior editors, for tremendous thoroughness, great writing, candor in an embarrassing situation, and for choosing to report it all on the front page of the Sunday Times.

But there's a "Dragnet"-style current of reproach when Blair's abuses of technology are described:

His tools of deceit were a cellphone and a laptop computer -- which allowed him to blur his true whereabouts -- as well as round-the-clock access to databases of news articles from which he stole.
It's reminiscent of the tone Joe Friday used lecturing errant teens about drugs and alcohol. The tone of The Times article reveals a nagging institutional anxiety about the tools of Jayson Blair's trickery, but Blair's story is a story of bad reporting and deplorable ethics, not a cautionary tale about technology.

Digital technology and online information have become almost universal tools for journalists. The Times publishes its regional editions by delivering pages digitally to printing facilities a continent away. It's hard to imagine the two biggest recent news events, the 9/11 attacks and the war on Iraq, without amateur video footage or fractured images from embedded reporters' handheld cameras. Reporters everywhere are filing by email and editing online, or over cellphones.

Despite this paradigm shift, journalists remains instinctively wary of electronic tools. News outlets that rely too heavily on wire stories are considered inferior to those that offer firsthand reports. Few newspapers have added continuous online updates to their operations, though The Times has.

The public expects journalists to be skeptics. We want reporters on the scene and in the field. That's part of the reason that Jayson Blair let his readers, colleagues and editors down. When we hear that Times Executive Editor Howell Raines once praised Blair for "great shoe-leather reporting," it inspires us with an archetypal image. The top editor at the top paper is upholding a standard older than cell phones and more reliable than captured images off television coverage.

But information crosses organizations and state lines faster than a reporter can follow on foot or over the phone. Technology and the adoption of technology place new demands on old habits.

The Times' own account of the story includes email warnings from Blair's editors which somehow didn't surface visibly enough to jar upper management. As Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., acknowledged in Sunday's article, "Maybe this crystallizes a little that we can find better ways to build lines of communication. ..."

On May 12, The Times announced the creation of a new committee to examine its "editing system." Reliable news outlets need to rethink their processes in light of the electronic tools of journalism, not just for competitive reasons, but so that integrity can keep pace with technology. Companies cannot simply lag behind and point at the prominent missteps technology makes possible. These tools, so badly abused in this example, do not present a dire conflict between "shoe leather reporting" and exploitable shortcuts, but a natural one between change at the pace of institutions and change at the pace of life as it's lived.

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Related Links
o detailed, riveting account
o informatio n crosses organizations and state lines faster
o The Times' own account
o didn't surface visibly enough
o announced the creation of a new committee
o Also by jellied


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Blaming the Tools in NYT's Misconduct Story | 138 comments (101 topical, 37 editorial, 0 hidden)
blah blah (3.85 / 7) (#10)
by turmeric on Mon May 12, 2003 at 11:10:25 AM EST

chop the last 5 paragraphs down into 4 sentences. i got bored as soon as i saw yet another /./k5 techno fanboy ranting about how 'the man' oppresses them by not having sexual fantasies about unix.

second of all, the NYT is not bold or brave or any of that crap. look up an old story on what they did RE some NFL scandal or something. i wrote an article about this called 'k5 is better than the new york times' or something. Too bad its gone!

soapboxing? (4.00 / 1) (#20)
by jellied on Mon May 12, 2003 at 12:14:39 PM EST

My biggest concern is definitely that the beginning, citing Sunday's story, and the later paragraphs are too different and maybe not even contextual (see my reply to rusty above).

But do you really think that those 4-5 grafs are so redundant and soap-boxy that they can be reduced to 1-2 sentences?

Or are /you/ soapboxing too (per your 'techno fanboy' crack)?

Let me know, because I'm not disagreeing with your complaint...

[ Parent ]

OT: formatting hint (5.00 / 3) (#27)
by rusty on Mon May 12, 2003 at 12:56:28 PM EST

If you check out your Comment preferences, at the bottom is a selector for "Post Mode." If you select Auto Format and save it, your /slash-delimited phrases/ will become actual italics. You can also easily [make a link http://www.example.com] (becomes "make a link"), *bold something* (becomes "bold something") and create paragraphs by just leaving a blank line.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
great subject... (4.00 / 3) (#12)
by pb on Mon May 12, 2003 at 11:13:39 AM EST

I saw some technological scare-mongering last night on the news, warning us all about how cell-phones with the capability to take pictures could be an imminent danger to our privacy... "Cellular Spies", I kid you not...

Now, yes, these are cameras that are concealed in phones, and of course they don't look like cameras. Note that my "news station" has been heavily advertising these dangerous, privacy-threatening doomsday technological devices for some time. So obviously they're really concerned about this, and thought they'd bring it to our attention because no one knows about these dangerous little camera phones (?)...

Also, note that it has been possible to purchase concealed cameras (or video cameras!) for quite some time now. In fact, if you don't filter ads, it's hard to surf the internet for any length of time without coming across an ad for one. Therefore, I could have a camera on my person without even having a cellphone! Imagine that. Are they reporting on this breach of privacy? No.

Bottom line? The news is worse than useless when it comes to these sorts of technological issues. They love scaremongering, because however it turns out, it works for them. If it's unjustified, people get upset, and their ratings go up. If it is justified, they get credit for being some sort of journalistic mastermind and for bringing the story to you first. These institutions thrive on controversy, not truth.

If they cared about truth, they'd tell you that cameras are everywhere, private citizens can film you without your knowledge if they want to, and the government can track your movements if they want to. One disturbing example I heard about this was when my US gov't used the license plate photos from toll booths to apprehend some criminal--they were able to track his movements around the country thanks to these cameras.

And realize that there are tons of cameras that take pictures of your license plate these days, and not just on toll booths. Why, if you had them all connected to some big database somewhere, you could stalktrack the movements of just about anyone on the road...

And what is my news station warning me about? The DMCA? TIPS? Total Information Awareness? Patriot II? Nope, it's "Cellular Spies"! Stay tuned for our live exclusive blahblahblah...

:(

---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall

Cell phones are a threat to privacy... (5.00 / 1) (#57)
by FlipFlop on Tue May 13, 2003 at 12:05:08 AM EST

...but not because of cameras. Cell phones constantly stay in contact with cell towers so the phone company knows where to route incoming calls.

Where I used to live, a group of college students disappeared. The police contacted the phone company to track them to the nearest cell tower. Unfortunately, it didn't help them much because the students' vehicle plunged under water and the phone stopped working. But the point remains, the phone company keeps a log of everwhere your cell phone goes.

Cell phone companies are working on systems which can pinpoint cell phone locations for 911 calls. Once that system is working, you can expect the phone company to track people from building to building.

AdTI - The think tank that didn't
[ Parent ]

Cell phone tracking already deployed (none / 0) (#109)
by Shpongle Spore on Wed May 14, 2003 at 09:53:44 AM EST

Cell phone companies are working on systems which can pinpoint cell phone locations for 911 calls. Once that system is working, you can expect the phone company to track people from building to building.

That technology is already in use. I recently heard a news report that my home town (Denton, TX) had deployed such a system.
__
I wish I was in Austin, at the Chili Parlor bar,
drinking 'Mad Dog' margaritas and not caring where you are
[ Parent ]

I don't necessarily buy your premise (4.66 / 6) (#14)
by rusty on Mon May 12, 2003 at 11:52:22 AM EST

Ok, having now read the whole NYT article, I agree with you that it's a good piece of reporting. But I don't see the techno-paranoia you attribute to it. In fact, it's amazing he was able to get away with this at all, email and cellphones aside. According to the article:
"On an expense report filed in January, for example, he indicated that he had bought blankets at a Marshalls department store in Washington; the receipt showed that the purchase was made at a Marshalls in Brooklyn. He also reported a purchase at a Starbucks in Washington; again, the receipt showed that it was in Brooklyn. On both days, he was supposedly writing articles from the Washington area."
and
"Between the first coverage of the sniper attacks in late October and late April, Mr. Blair filed articles claiming to be from 20 cities in six states. Yet during those five months, he did not submit a single receipt for a hotel room, rental car or airplane ticket, officials at The Times said."
The article concludes that "...something clearly broke down in the Times newsroom. It appears to have been communication -- the very purpose of the newspaper itself," and seems to point to the lack of internal communication as the main factor that allowed the deception to continue for so long. It would be hard to argue any different, since documents Blair himself gave the paper proved that he was not where he said he was.

In short, I don't see the emphasis on technology-as-culprit that you seem to, here. I think you need to do more to establish your case than simply state that the tools were mentioned.

____
Not the real rusty

tonal, not central (none / 0) (#18)
by jellied on Mon May 12, 2003 at 12:09:38 PM EST

Yeah, I agree that the article's emphasis is not on tech-as-culprit. I'm using it as a springboard (or perhaps diving board, to keep the water images flowing) to make a point about how journalists feel about technology.

Question is whether I'm imposing this and exploiting the story to launch a personal rant, or commenting on an underlying judgment in the Times piece.

[ Parent ]

The former (5.00 / 2) (#26)
by rusty on Mon May 12, 2003 at 12:51:57 PM EST

Question is whether I'm imposing this and exploiting the story to launch a personal rant, or commenting on an underlying judgment in the Times piece.

My sense after reading the NYT article was that it was more the former. I get what you're doing, but I think it would work better if you could find some other evidence, even if it's also tonal, to bolster the argument. Basically, this would work as one example out of a few where there's a tone of techno-suspicion, but I think that by itself, it's not enough to support your whole argument.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

French Beef (5.00 / 1) (#34)
by CheeseburgerBrown on Mon May 12, 2003 at 02:38:09 PM EST

Basically, this would work as one example out of a few where there's a tone of techno-suspicion, but I think that by itself, it's not enough to support your whole argument.

That's as true as chocolate pudding. I really enjoyed this article (honestly) up until the point where it seemed to be trailing off, rather than moving on the next compelling and unrelated demonstration of fifth estate technophobia.

As the French say: "C'est oł, le boeuf?"

...Failing that, what about drawing historical parallels, marking the trends in the way technological innovations have liberated/terrified the established voices in the past? Or, what about exploring deeper into the zoo of journalistic ethics animals?


___
I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da. We are a simple, grease-loving people who enjoy le weekend de ski. Personally, I pref
[ Parent ]
journalism (none / 0) (#75)
by eudas on Tue May 13, 2003 at 10:29:16 AM EST

i think the article does a poor job of enunciating its position. the tone does sound as if it condemns technology for its role in making this fellow's deception easier. however, the real culprit is not journalism's attitudes towards technology, but journalism's attitudes towards journalism.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

elaborate... (none / 0) (#92)
by jellied on Tue May 13, 2003 at 03:56:59 PM EST

that's an interesting comment - can you say more? reports show how The Times is now instituting its own internal discussion on journalistic accountability, but do you mean the need for that or something more?

[ Parent ]
journalistic integrity (4.66 / 3) (#96)
by eudas on Tue May 13, 2003 at 05:07:05 PM EST

i mean that his use of technology to avoid going the full distance that true journalistic integrity demands is not really the point; people will slack with or without technology -- the only difference is in HOW they slack.

so with that in mind, as i stated earlier, the issue is not their respect or lack thereof of technology but rather their respect or lack thereof of true journalistic integrity.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

I'm not impressed with the Times Handling of This (4.66 / 6) (#17)
by HidingMyName on Mon May 12, 2003 at 12:06:57 PM EST

First a few editorial remarks. The article includes a lot of extraneous stuff, including mentioning of diversity initiatives, the Bush administration and the entertainment industry. I'd recommend removing these references, as they don't strengthen the story.

The Times didn't manage or supervise Blair properly if I understand correctly. At CNN they say:

In April 2002, Jonathan Landman, the metropolitan editor, was so concerned about the quality of Blair's work and the number of errors he was making that he sent an e-mail to newsroom administrators saying, "We have to stop Jayson from writing for the Times. Right now."
So apparently they swept this under the rug for over a year? The Times has a real credibility problem, it isn't like they stepped up and did the right thing when they figured out there was a problem, I wish they had listened to Landman. Now they say, Blair was so clever, a real mastermind, we had no chance. However, another way to look at it is that the management/editors just weren't up to their jobs and didn't (with the possible exception of Landman) take an early stand on principle or carefully examine the facts.

Landman (5.00 / 1) (#19)
by jellied on Mon May 12, 2003 at 12:10:56 PM EST

just FYI, I think that Landman quote is in The Times piece too

[ Parent ]
Another pulling a very similar stunt (4.50 / 2) (#24)
by IHCOYC on Mon May 12, 2003 at 12:38:17 PM EST

Stephen Glass apparently managed to pull off a very similar stunt on the New Republic without the help of quite so many high tech gadgets, according to 60 Minutes. He kept most of his handwritten notes in scrawls and shorthand.

But he wrote fictitious emails to bolster the credibility of his talies, and made a bogus web site, which was obviously fictitious because it seemed unlikely that the high tech company whose site it was supposed to be would have a members.aol.com address. There was no note that technology made Glass's stunts easier to pull; in fact, it was the low-tech tech in them that clued in some of those who challenged him that they were bogus.
 --
The color is black, the material is leather, the seduction is beauty, the justification is honesty, the aim is ecstasy, the fantasy is death.

I just don't get it (5.00 / 2) (#29)
by arvindn on Mon May 12, 2003 at 01:34:35 PM EST

How could this guy pull it off for so long even though every one of the people he wrote about and claimed to have met must have known that he was cheating?

Case in point: On page 3, it says:

Mr. Blair described Mrs. Gardner "turning swiftly in her chair to listen to an anchor report of a Marine unit"; he also wrote about the red, white and blue pansies in her front yard. In an interview last week, Mrs. Gardner said Mr. Blair had spoken to her only by phone.

And it goes on to say:

The Gardner family, who had spent considerable time on the phone with Mr. Blair, were delighted with the article. They wrote The Times saying so, and their letter was published.

WTF? The Gardners knew he spoke to them only by phone, yet he writes about their living room and front yard and everything, and they never pointed it out? And he had this sort of luck with every article he wrote? Weird. Or am I missing something?

So you think your vocabulary's good?

That is what is so disturbing. (3.33 / 6) (#31)
by thelizman on Mon May 12, 2003 at 01:54:33 PM EST

The editors *knew* that he had a credibility issue. They had issued a number of retractions and corrections on his stories, but had granted him incredible leeway precisely because of his race. The editors cited "diversity" and "sensitivity" as reasons for excusing his blatent plagiarism and lying. At its worst, they still didn't fire him - he had to resign.

What is really revealing is that this is not one isolated incident. Reporters do this all the time."Reputable" institutions are as frought with idealogues who don't mind manipulating the story as tabloids are. The difference is that tabloids do it for sensationalism, hence circulation, hence profit. Journalists do this simply to raise their own profile (and to some extent, profit).

I don't care where you get your information from - whether it's so-called "indymedia", or major media outlets - you have to use extreme caution when taking anything reported as fact. If your bullshit detector isn't properly calibrated, then you'll simply have to accept that anything you don't see with your own two eyes didn't happen.

BTW, if you listen to Rush (c'mon, admit it...), he's going apeshit about it. I'm about to change the channel - he's been harping on it for an hour.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Important point (4.83 / 6) (#32)
by rusty on Mon May 12, 2003 at 02:35:41 PM EST

This story also points out a rather important fact that few people seem to realize, which is that daily newspaper reporters don't have fact checkers. Newspapers trust their editors, editors trust their reporters, and we trust the newspaper. When one or a few editors trust in a reporter is misplaced, it can go quite a long way before anyone finds out.

This issue is always one of the first things that comes up when I talk about various ways that reporting could be opened to more people. "But how will you ever know what's true? How do you know who to trust?" I used to worry about that a lot, but now I'm thinking that basically you shouldn't trust anyone outright, and a system that enforces transparency and encourages distrust in single source information would be quite a bit better than what we have now.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

I just wonder (4.50 / 2) (#48)
by mami on Mon May 12, 2003 at 07:14:06 PM EST

what's the motivation to make up stuff and embellish a story with fiction? They said he had some "problems". Which ones?

BTW, I heard Margret Carlson saying on C-SPAN that they usually do have fact checkers at their weekly news magazines. May be they can't keep up at newspapers to implement stricter control,  because of the turn around speed with which news need to be written.

How about the typical online fiction article writing troll that sound so scientific, philosophical and intelligent? What's there that make them write long winded pieces to tease the last emotional reactions out of the reader, often combined with a clear preference to hook readers and incite reactions by making them hate what they have written? What is that that makes them get a kick out of it?

Has that something to do with not being able to handle the interactive technology that gives a reporter too much power, as he is too easily be heard and read AND responded to?

If you want to know the character of a man, give him power.

Aren't we all empowered through things like online blogs, access to data, which we can use to cut and paste our "piece" into a format that makes us look like a clone of the latest hip Einstein genius? Isn't it great just too good to be true not get hooked to?

Who would be so addicted to read and react here on K5, if the medium wouldn't be interactive and we had actually physically to move our behinds to search for true sources instead of click, cut and paste them from some website whose sources we have difficulties to check?

Imagine we wouldn't know, if someone reads our stuff. Would people still write diaries?

Do we all have "a problem" and need "help"? If we have, how do you describe the "problem" and what would be "the help"?  

Whereas an anonymous troll online doesn't have to fear any repercussions for his addiction, like losing his job over it for example, a NYT reporter should at least have enough brains to know that such a "problem" would kill his career.

I think there are a lot of potential Jayson Blairs among K5 writers.

+1 FP for the article when it comes into the queue.

[ Parent ]

Ha! (5.00 / 1) (#39)
by truth versus death on Mon May 12, 2003 at 03:44:07 PM EST

Rush is concerned about integrity in reporting. Now that's just too typical.

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
Oh Yeah? (5.00 / 1) (#40)
by thelizman on Mon May 12, 2003 at 04:28:26 PM EST

...name something he's been wrong about? Go ahead...I'll wait...


(tap tap tap tap...)
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
why are you tapping? (4.66 / 3) (#50)
by truth versus death on Mon May 12, 2003 at 08:03:17 PM EST

are you actually waiting there? silly.

Checking the facts? No Rush

Here's a nice book dedicated to things Rush is wrong about.

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
Color Me Unimpressed. (3.75 / 4) (#56)
by thelizman on Mon May 12, 2003 at 11:54:38 PM EST

The first link, at Salon, uses a picture of Rush, but doesn't at all mention his name. Of course, if I were a subscriber, I might be able to read their hystrionics (which are clearly indicated in the paragraphs provided). Otherwise, no points awarded.

Your second link, I think they make three allegations. Unfortunately, this is old hat, and Rush has already responded. You see, the allegations (1. That rush claimed there are more trees today in America than in 1787, 2. That volcanos do more permanant damage to the ozone layer than industrial pollution, and 3. That the NY times buried a positive article about Republican prospects during an election) are based loosely on thing Rush did say, but not the way he said them. Rush already responded to these machinations. One caveat is that you cannot argue #2 either way, since we do not have figures on the total acreage of woodland in the areas that would come to make up the US as we know it today. However, if you still want to argue that one, we had 13 states back then. 730 million acres of forest we have today would completely cover those colonies. So yes, we do have more trees today than in 1787.

Then your third source...a book that was based on FAIRs research (already addressed by Rush. That's your big evidence? The link doesn't even contain any allegations, it's just an ad for a book!

The foot is still tapping here....give me 1, just one thing that Rush has actually said that can actually be disproven. Go ahead...I have patience.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
oh god (5.00 / 2) (#60)
by truth versus death on Tue May 13, 2003 at 12:47:58 AM EST

if you still want to argue that one, we had 13 states back then. 730 million acres of forest we have today would completely cover those colonies. So yes, we do have more trees today than in 1787

I didn't know I was talking to Rush himself.

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
again with the too early in the morning for this (4.50 / 2) (#74)
by eudas on Tue May 13, 2003 at 10:21:09 AM EST

the technicality lies in yes, we do own more tries than in 1787, not that there necessarily is more total trees on the continental US than there was in 1787.

is that the point? no; it all lies in how you phrase it. from the POV of the Common argument then it's irrelevant and stupid, since that's not what they were thinking about when they posited that there were less; however, they didn't phrase their argument correctly so the argument they received in response is not relevant to the point that they wished to discuss.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

i'm not worried about tries (4.00 / 2) (#79)
by truth versus death on Tue May 13, 2003 at 11:37:45 AM EST

i'm worried about do-overs

more limbaugh fun

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
it puts the lotion on its skin (4.00 / 2) (#80)
by eudas on Tue May 13, 2003 at 11:52:03 AM EST

tries .. heh.
i mean TREES.
You knew that though. :)
i told you it was too early for this stuff. :P

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

A thoroughly illogical argument (5.00 / 2) (#65)
by pyramid termite on Tue May 13, 2003 at 05:47:24 AM EST

However, if you still want to argue that one, we had 13 states back then. 730 million acres of forest we have today would completely cover those colonies. So yes, we do have more trees today than in 1787.

In that case we also have more deserts - it must be global warming! Oh, and we have more glaciers and tundra, it's global cooling!

You understand that the way you've put this argument makes it thoroughly worthless, don't you?

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
feh, it's too early for this crap (none / 0) (#73)
by eudas on Tue May 13, 2003 at 10:18:57 AM EST

that was his fucking point, but he ran with it just to take it to ad nauseum and show how it's invalid. thanks for joining the rest of us in realizing its invalidity.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

Ahh, so you would agree with me ... (5.00 / 1) (#94)
by pyramid termite on Tue May 13, 2003 at 04:20:30 PM EST

... that by citing meaningless "statistics" about the number of trees in 1787 and now that Rush was committing an inaccuracy?

In fact, it's worse than that - where is the evidence that having more trees is ecologically desirable? What kind of trees and where? And why make the assumption that pre-Columbian America was in a supposedly "natural" state, uninterfered with by humans?

What Rush was doing was taking a complex and ambiguous issue and turning it into a sound-bite. And yes, folks, he's wrong about that. He's worse than wrong - he's irrelevant.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
continuing (4.50 / 2) (#98)
by eudas on Tue May 13, 2003 at 06:21:32 PM EST

whether it is inaccurate or not, once again, depends on your POV. the POV being a) TREES GOOD/NO TREES BAD or b) LET'S ARGUE ABOUT WHAT YOU ACTUALLY SAID, NOT WHAT YOU MEANT.

i agree with you only to a point. i'm not sure if you're trying to put words into my mouth or not.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

It's actually perfectly logic... (none / 0) (#118)
by thelizman on Thu May 15, 2003 at 10:59:08 AM EST

...and it's simple mathematics. You increase land area, you also increase the total resources. If you're going to argue with it, you're going to have to use something other than logic - you're going to have to involve common sense, and clarify semantics.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
There's the problem with Rush. (none / 0) (#119)
by Happy Monkey on Thu May 15, 2003 at 11:34:02 AM EST

He exhibits no common sense and relies on murky semantics.
___
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
Also the drum solos - wayyyy too long. (none / 0) (#128)
by BongHitler on Thu May 15, 2003 at 09:50:12 PM EST



[ Parent ]
It's That Voice... (none / 0) (#131)
by thelizman on Fri May 16, 2003 at 09:30:43 AM EST

...I feel like I'm listening to a cartoon rock star. Alvin and the Headbangers.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
I once listened to a Rush rant that Tom Daschle (none / 0) (#103)
by michaelp on Wed May 14, 2003 at 03:48:34 AM EST

is the devil. He went on for about an hour about it, and I was on a long drive through the central valley, so I just kept listening.

I was amazed that the man could rant with such apparent anger and so little logic or facts, for so long, and yet have dozens of people calling him with their dittos. Anyway, I think we can conclude that Daschle is not actually the devil so clearly Rush has been wrong.

As far as something he has been wrong about:

Don't believe the conventional wisdom of our day that claims the Founding Fathers were anything but orthodox, Bible-believing Christians.

Now our most famous founding father wrote his own version of the bible, taking out all the magical parts, so I think it's pretty clear that Rush was quite wrong to call him "orthodox Christian";-).



"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

[ Parent ]
13 states is not "America" (none / 0) (#114)
by ethereal on Wed May 14, 2003 at 01:42:15 PM EST

...any more than 50 states are. America is two continents. Including recent deforestation in South America, it's pretty clear that there are less trees now than then.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Stop with the bullshit (none / 0) (#117)
by thelizman on Thu May 15, 2003 at 10:56:34 AM EST

The 50 states of the United States of America are collectively referred to as America. The continents of the western hemisphere are referred to as the America's, but with regard to specific geopolitical entities they are never "America", they are Mexico, Canada, Columbia, Chila, Argentina, or so on.

Don't be a dumbass.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
your inaccuracy doesn't make me a dumbass (none / 0) (#125)
by ethereal on Thu May 15, 2003 at 01:41:00 PM EST

Also, it's "Americas", not "America's".

Dumbass.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

I really like that Rush song, 'The Trees'. (none / 0) (#127)
by BongHitler on Thu May 15, 2003 at 09:48:32 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Here you go (4.50 / 2) (#77)
by Happy Monkey on Tue May 13, 2003 at 10:51:58 AM EST

The way things aren't. They include Rush's responses, and FAIR's responses to the responses. Rush manages to explain some, but not all, of the statements. There are some logical reaches on both sides in the responses.
___
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
Whoops (none / 0) (#95)
by 5s for Everyone on Tue May 13, 2003 at 04:41:15 PM EST

I rated you 5 because I thought you were mocking Limbaugh:

I dare you to name one government project that has succeeded in doing the task it was set out to do. Hhhrrrmmmm... I'm waiting... time's up! (paraphrased)

Of course, now I realise you were actually being serious, which is kind of sad.
--
There is Damezumari in the Bamboo Joint
[ Parent ]

Rush Limbaugh (none / 0) (#112)
by MrAcheson on Wed May 14, 2003 at 01:10:05 PM EST

Rush is concerned about integrity in reporting. Now that's just too typical.

Just for the record Rush does not consider himself a journalist and never has. He considers himself a commentator. In his mind journalists have an obligation to be unbiased and non-partisan. Rush is obviously neither of those things and does not feel obligated to tell both sides of the story.

These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.


[ Parent ]
Appropriate. (none / 0) (#115)
by SPYvSPY on Wed May 14, 2003 at 02:15:08 PM EST

If I may say so myself, the very fact that Rush would argue such a distinction proves that he is, in fact, a 'quibbler' (i.e., a person that talks his head up his ass and then uses tiny footholds of logic to extract said head from said ass).
------------------------------------------------

By replying to this or any other comment in this thread, you assign an equal share of all worldwide copyright in such reply to each of the other readers of this site.
[ Parent ]

I think you exaggerate the race issue ... (4.33 / 3) (#41)
by pyramid termite on Mon May 12, 2003 at 04:44:30 PM EST

... and the role it played in his not being fired sooner. The fact is, employers in ANY business these days are reluctant to be hasty in firing any employee, as if there's a shadow of a doubt, or a hint of subjectivity in the evidence used to fire the person, that person can sue. The fact that he's a minority would ensure even more caution, not to mention that management also would have to deal with a guild (union), which can REALLY complicate things. I know of managers who've lost their jobs because they fired somebody and couldn't make it stick - in this atmosphere, the managerial instinct is to give the person enough rope until they are truly and obviously hung.

Also, according to the lengthy article in the NYT, it wasn't blatant plagarism and lying that they had warned and counseled Blair about - it was his poor record of accuracy and general sloppyness. Once they discovered that he had plagarized and lied willfully, the axe was very quick to fall. (And yes, I'm pretty sure they were going to fire him - a wise employer does this face to face at a meeting with witnesses so a record of the reasons and responses to them can be made; the reporter didn't want to deal with this confrontation it seems, and so he quit.)

So Rush is going apeshit over it? Of course, he probably doesn't have a recommendation as to what newspaper we should read instead, does he? (I read many different ones online through links- it's the only way one can sort things out today.)

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Newspapers have a thick skin (5.00 / 2) (#78)
by mwalker on Tue May 13, 2003 at 11:36:21 AM EST

It is very rare than anyone is ever happy about what is written about them. The key to "hard hitting" journalism is to make sure that someone gets hit. This sells.

So when a newspaper has to build up an immunity to angry people calling them screaming "this is a gigantic pack of lies!", they form a barrier to legitimate complaints. It can probably get very difficult to distinguish someone complaining over real factual distortions from your run-of-the-mill angry citizen whose town fundraiser was recently "exposed".

My guess is that the NYT has someone calling them yelling "wolf" nearly every day. In this case, it cost them time in recognizing an actual predator.

[ Parent ]

"nagging institutional anxiety" (4.50 / 4) (#33)
by RareHeintz on Mon May 12, 2003 at 02:37:12 PM EST

It has to be said that the NYT as an institution ought to be slightly anxious about these tools - not just because of the abuses of one reporter (or anyway, one that got caught), but because the NYT has been among those that don't "get it" when it comes to the world of post-1993 media.

The only thing this article lacks is mention of the good models of digital journalism. What are they? Salon? IndyMedia? How do they differ from old-school institutions like the NYT? What are they doing better? What good things have they left behind?

(My short answers to the above questions: Salon is an example of doing it better, IndyMedia is an example of doing it worse. IndyMedia leaves behind objectivity, and I can't take Salon in the bathroom.)

OK,
- B
--
http://www.bradheintz.com/ - updated kind of daily

LJWorld.com (5.00 / 5) (#36)
by rusty on Mon May 12, 2003 at 02:46:57 PM EST

Rob Curley has been an outstanding example of how to do digital reporting right, first at the Topeka, KS Courier-Journal and now at Lawrence Kansas's Lawrence Journal-World. JD Lasica did a good profile of Curley in OJR last summer, while he was still at CJOnline, and he has taken the same approaches (and really much of the same production team) with him to Lawrence.

Curley's not doing anything glamorous, he's just good at doing quality local news reporting online. I think for the most part, news organizations need to stop thinking that online quality requires something significantly different from what they normally think of as good news work, they just need to do good work using the tools at their disposal.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

objectivity (none / 0) (#122)
by millman on Thu May 15, 2003 at 12:20:51 PM EST

is a dangerous word.  I like indymedia for the fact that it doesn't hide its biases.  It makes it easier to filter through the bias/bullshit detector.

All media outlets have bias to some degree, whether it's the advertisers they can't piss off or the corporate culture that permeates down from the individuals running the company.

In that respect I greatly dislike and have little respect for fox news, since they claim to be fair and unbiased, when they are clearly a right wing outlet.
---------------------------------------------------------------------

In a world full of thieves, the only crime is getting caught.
[ Parent ]

Teh real reason he got caught: (3.13 / 15) (#35)
by K5 ASCII reenactment players on Mon May 12, 2003 at 02:42:35 PM EST

This are teh real picture of 
me interviewing a lady!
\
 \      Hello! I are real too!
                / 
  O         \O
 /|\o        |>
  \ '       /_\ 
 / \         |\


aski artz (none / 0) (#42)
by tkatchev on Mon May 12, 2003 at 04:50:51 PM EST

i have to ask, why is the dude kicking a soccer ball?

teh chixor is quite sexy, tho.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

It's a microphone (n/t) (none / 0) (#69)
by Greedy Capitalist Pig on Tue May 13, 2003 at 09:24:40 AM EST


I am God.
[ Parent ]

Oh, I guess I got confused. (none / 0) (#88)
by tkatchev on Tue May 13, 2003 at 02:23:41 PM EST

It's just that the dude looks so much like David Beckham... I guess I got confused...

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

I love you, ASCIIMan! <n/t> (5.00 / 4) (#49)
by carbon on Mon May 12, 2003 at 07:35:13 PM EST



Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
[ Parent ]
Why is it important that he is black (3.28 / 7) (#44)
by psychologist on Mon May 12, 2003 at 05:21:11 PM EST

If he were not black, there would be no mention of his color. Because he is black, it is mentioned in most news reports about this, but always in an aside and non-causal manner. If it is that way, why mention his color at all?

Apparently, his writing style is not the issue, but simply his morals. If that is so, then what does merit or diversity have to do with the story? What does dishonesty have to do with how good is he as a journalist? Nothing! So his race, or the fact that he got in by way of a diversity program is IRRELEVANT!

I demand from évery aspiring journalist who feels it neccesary to mention his race that they mention the eye color of all their other subjects.

Say what? (3.50 / 6) (#45)
by Vann on Mon May 12, 2003 at 05:58:14 PM EST

It's important that he is black because there is evidence that the NYT hired him not because of his merit, but because they were seeking racial diversity.  If there were concerns that the NYT hired him because of his eye-color then that would be just as relevant,

Unless of course your post's tone was supposed to be half-hearted, false indignation in an attempt to goad angry conservatives into replying with real indignation.  If that's the case, then best of luck.
____________
Sex is tedious all year except on Arbor Day. -- Rusty
[ Parent ]

Why the accent? (1.50 / 2) (#71)
by czth on Tue May 13, 2003 at 09:48:39 AM EST

I demand from évery aspiring journalist

You're not sympathisizing with the anti-freedom French people are you? You do realize that would be unAmerican, right? Knock, knock, it's the Gesta^H^H^H^H^HFBI... but don't worry, they probably just want directions on where to send the racism police.

czth

[ Parent ]

I use french keyboard (3.25 / 4) (#76)
by psychologist on Tue May 13, 2003 at 10:36:37 AM EST

because france is a land of real freedom, and they allow freedom fighters to live there without getting arrested and detained for months, and then released with no explanation. In france, you are free, in American, you are told you are free.

[ Parent ]
I need your advice... (5.00 / 1) (#105)
by ti dave on Wed May 14, 2003 at 04:49:17 AM EST

I was planning on opening a store at the Orly Airport, selling Nazi memorabilia and the like, but I don't want to bother with ordering signs in French.

Do you think I'll encounter any problems?

I'd like to put a bullet in your head, Ti_Dave. ~DominantParadigm
[ Parent ]

wasn't it Rosa Luxemburg (none / 0) (#116)
by fhotg on Wed May 14, 2003 at 04:23:51 PM EST

who said something like:

Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who sells nazi memorabilia and the like.


[ Parent ]
Interesting (4.00 / 2) (#46)
by godix on Mon May 12, 2003 at 06:30:04 PM EST

Everyone seems to have missed the biggest implication of this story. An average person has enough access with the internet to rival the best reporters of the nation. Blair did have access to a few things the average joe wouldn't be able to get to, but for the most part he worked with the same info that anyone else could have gotten. This story, along with sites like drudgereport or indymedia, help prove the media doesn't have more info the joe blow, just a higher reputation.


"A disobedient dog is almost as bad as a disobedient girlfriend or wife."
- A Proud American
Completely wrong (5.00 / 2) (#72)
by Lugh on Tue May 13, 2003 at 09:48:42 AM EST

Speaking as a reporter, it doesn't work this way. The Internet is a great resource, but (in most cases) it doesn't let you get everything you need to put together a good news story. At the end of his career (which is what these past few months have been-- Blair will never work for the news media again,) Blair was no longer a reporter. He was essentially a leech and a thief, misrepresenting other people's work as his own. There were real reporters and journalists out there, doing good shoe-leather reporting and writing original stories.

If "Joe Blow" goes out, finds the documents, visits the places, interviews the players and writes their own copy, then, yes, they'll have everything but the credibility of the major media. There has to be someone out there gathering the original information, or your theoretical Internet harvester won't have anything to regurgitate. If all you do is emulate Jayson Blair, then you'll just be a plagarist and a fabricator, which doesn't benefit anyone.


Remove the obvious falsehood to e-mail me.
[ Parent ]

Funny.. (none / 0) (#84)
by Kwil on Tue May 13, 2003 at 01:03:01 PM EST

..it seems the editorial board of the New York Times disagrees with you. At least until they caught what he was doing.

You'll note that they didn't have really a problem with the contents of his reports. They printed them and we're quite happy with them, after all. Had he actually gone out to the Gardner's place, interviewed them in person, and written the exact same thing, there would have been no kerfuffle at all. The only difference was in the means by which he gathered the information.

So unless you're saying that "true journalism is not about the content at all", then godix point seems to stand.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
All right, I'm confused (4.00 / 1) (#101)
by Lugh on Wed May 14, 2003 at 12:52:29 AM EST

Okay, I'd just like to say, I've written three other replies to this, and trashed them all, I'm that confused by this comment. Maybe I'm just tired. I'm going to make this as simple as possible, for my own sanity.

First, to quote from the second graf of the Times' 14,000-word behemoth--

He fabricated comments. He concocted scenes. He lifted material from other newspapers and wire services. He selected details from photographs to create the impression he had been somewhere or seen someone, when he had not.

Now, for your comment.

Funny ... it seems the editorial board of the New York Times disagrees with you. At least until they caught what he was doing.

You'll note that they didn't have really a problem with the contents of his reports. They printed them and we're quite happy with them, after all.

You say the Times didn't have a problem with what Blair was doing until he was caught? Yes. In much the same was as no one had a problem with Enron until their accounting practices were revealed. I'm not really sure what your point is here. Ignorance of wrongdoing is not approval of it.

Had he actually gone out to the Gardner's place, interviewed them in person, and written the exact same thing, there would have been no kerfuffle at all. The only difference was in the means by which he gathered the information.

Blair was getting paid to do original reporting and writing. If we refer back to the quote from the article, we see that on several occasions he failed to do one or both. Falsification and plagarism are the two worst sins in journalism. There is never an excuse for the former, and the latter can be easily avoided by proper attribution, although stealing as much copy as Blair did, even with attribution, would have been professionally unacceptable.

So unless you're saying that "true journalism is not about the content at all", then godix point seems to stand.

"True journalism," as you put it, is indeed about the content -- the reporting by which a journalist acquires their facts and the writing by which they communicate them. The people who did the original reporting and writing that Blair stole from should be credited as fine journalists, somthing that Blair is not. If everyone did what godix seems to be implying makes "the best reporters of the nation" -- rehashing published news articles found on the internet, we'd run out of actual news in a few short hours.


Remove the obvious falsehood to e-mail me.
[ Parent ]

And to this I simply say.. (none / 0) (#102)
by Kwil on Wed May 14, 2003 at 03:16:11 AM EST

..watched CNN lately?

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
Yes, too often, actually... (none / 0) (#108)
by Lugh on Wed May 14, 2003 at 08:59:38 AM EST

And I think most of it is crap, and some of it, I know, is regurgitated. I hear radio programs in the morning reading the headlines and briefs out of the Washington Post and not crediting the paper. It's not right, and doesn't make the person reading the paper on-air a journalist.


Remove the obvious falsehood to e-mail me.
[ Parent ]

Shoe-leather (5.00 / 1) (#104)
by mayor on Wed May 14, 2003 at 03:55:41 AM EST

Well, why is everyone missing the point? I don't know how much credibilty Fox, CNN, or the NYT have, but is Blair worse than them? I doubt it.

And what difference does it make whether Blair actually traveled to the location, versus the journalist who do traval to the location just to report whatever they wanted to report anyway what was on their mind before they left. I mean, will journalist travel to Mrs. Lynch home to report desparaging things on America's hero? Did they go their to form opinion and uncover new things, or did they go as part of a "news worthy" national issue. No, they went there to do their journalist duty, which is defined, as the duty to parrot (and hype) the opinion of their editor. Would we have gained anything if Blair actually traveled? No, I am afraid there was nothing to gain.

[ Parent ]

don't push your politics...it hurts (3.75 / 4) (#58)
by simul on Tue May 13, 2003 at 12:08:58 AM EST

"If only editors and publishers were as wary of the Bush administration, or of the quickening blur between news and entertainment, as they seem to be of the electronic tools which are empowering cellphone users, email users, web readers and webloggers to share information and become agents of microjournalism on their own. "

No matter how much I agree...what does that have to do with the story?

And what *is* the real story here. The truth is the Times, by pointing the finger at technology, was copping out, and taking a stab at the threat of weblogs/Internet media...

But then again, what Google is planning makes the Times's pointed jab look like a *big hug*.

They're basically planning to take all weblogs: Kuro5hin, and sites like mine, and metafilter, etc... and list them as "blogs".... leaving the "real news" (IE: CNN) on the main search engine.

Read this book - first 24 pages are free to browse - it rocks

Maybe (5.00 / 2) (#70)
by rusty on Tue May 13, 2003 at 09:36:14 AM EST

They're basically planning to take all weblogs: Kuro5hin, and sites like mine, and metafilter, etc... and list them as "blogs".... leaving the "real news" (IE: CNN) on the main search engine.

As far as I know, this was only reported on the Register, and while they are planning to make a specialized blog search, it was not clear to me that that meant removing blogs from the "real" search. I think Orlowski was indulging in a little speculation there, and I'll be surprised if that happens.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Thereby restoring functionality to Google. (none / 0) (#106)
by ti dave on Wed May 14, 2003 at 04:54:02 AM EST

Thank Ghod for small miracles.

I'd like to put a bullet in your head, Ti_Dave. ~DominantParadigm
[ Parent ]

Personally I think it helps google (none / 0) (#110)
by Wah on Wed May 14, 2003 at 12:24:41 PM EST

When you have agents working to directly link pertinent information to actual sources it would seem to improve the functionality of a search that relies on those agents.

But that's just the impression I get from looking through my refferer logs and checking the searches.  There is an additional layer of focus, essentially the "blog lens", and more layers can be bad, but it does help to have various people using a larger set of keywords to focus the search.  People think alike, and while one set of keywords for a particular topic will work great, if you think slightly different, it is more helpful to have a larger set of search terms.

Not sure if I'm explaining myself clearly here, what with the talk of lenses, agents, and focus, but there ya go.

--
Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]

My gripe about Google and Blogs: (5.00 / 1) (#113)
by ti dave on Wed May 14, 2003 at 01:11:39 PM EST

Including Blogs seriously compromises the Fact:Opinion ratio in the search results and I don't use Google to locate Opinions.

That's what kuro5hin is for.

I'd like to put a bullet in your head, Ti_Dave. ~DominantParadigm
[ Parent ]

Truth in journalism. (3.33 / 6) (#62)
by Trollificus on Tue May 13, 2003 at 02:10:29 AM EST

"Mr. Blair repeatedly violated the cardinal tenet of journalism, which is simply truth."

If truth is the cardinal tenet of journalism, then why the hell is Fox News still on the air?
Oh, wait. I forgot. You have to be considered a respectable journalist to begin with. My bad.

"The separation of church and state is a fiction. The nation is the kingdom of God, period."
--Bishop Harold Calvin Ray of West Palm Beach, FL

It's worse than that (none / 0) (#99)
by X-Nc on Tue May 13, 2003 at 06:29:15 PM EST

Don't just rag on Fox. Every single one of the worlds "News" organizations - and I do mean every single one - does little reporting of the truth. The media in the US rivles the former Soviet Union's Pravda. The rest of the "free" world is not much better. It's really telling when the US DoD's Newspaper, the Stars and Strips, is the least filled with lies and propaganda.

--
Aaahhhh!!!! My K5 subscription expired. Now I can't spell anymore.
[ Parent ]
I'm with Jayson Blair right now (3.55 / 9) (#63)
by Herring on Tue May 13, 2003 at 03:37:58 AM EST

In his New York apartment. He denies the whole thing.


Say lol what again motherfucker, say lol what again, I dare you, no I double dare you
Anyone else think (3.33 / 3) (#66)
by hex11a on Tue May 13, 2003 at 08:23:07 AM EST

The NYT should have sent Jayson Blair to interview the information minister? It could have gone 2 ways - we'd either get the truth or some story about Britney Spears leading the Iraqi counterattack. Either way, everyone's a winner!

Hex

Jay Leno, is that you? (1.00 / 1) (#126)
by BongHitler on Thu May 15, 2003 at 09:23:49 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Mr. Blair is our ally (1.20 / 5) (#85)
by JayGarner on Tue May 13, 2003 at 01:06:29 PM EST

He should be treated with respect. When the rest of the European Union shunned us, Mr. Blair took our side. I cannot approve of the villification of this great friend of democracy, freedom, and the American way.

huh? (3.00 / 2) (#89)
by EMHMark3 on Tue May 13, 2003 at 03:31:20 PM EST

What is this, slashdot? Read the article before posting.

T H E   M A C H I N E   S T O P S
[ Parent ]

-1 Flamebate (none / 0) (#107)
by bigchris on Wed May 14, 2003 at 08:35:49 AM EST



---
I Hate Jesus: -1: Bible thumper
kpaul: YAAT. YHL. HAND. btw, YAHWEH wins ;) [mt]
[ Parent ]
Wrong Blair (NT) (1.00 / 1) (#90)
by Cro Magnon on Tue May 13, 2003 at 03:40:19 PM EST


Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
too funny (1.00 / 1) (#91)
by jellied on Tue May 13, 2003 at 03:53:08 PM EST

:]!

[ Parent ]
That was a stupid comment (none / 0) (#129)
by JayGarner on Thu May 15, 2003 at 11:08:15 PM EST

I can't give myself a '1' though. WTF?

[ Parent ]
A Reluctant -1 (5.00 / 1) (#86)
by HidingMyName on Tue May 13, 2003 at 01:18:08 PM EST

I really wanted to vote this story up, it is a very important issue. I appreciate the author's efforts to remove the political remarks which I objected to earleir from the story. However, stylistically, I feel it is overly long and not as direct as I like. Additionally, I feel that the real story is the blame shifting, and sweeping the problem under the rug and "cover your ass" behavior. The response by the New York Times of only disclosing when they were publicly exposed and the subsequentcreation of a "blue ribbon fact finding committee" by management who seemed unable or unwilling to confront the hard facts does not inspire confidence.

We need an mega-company to manufacture NEWS! (5.00 / 1) (#93)
by knott art on Tue May 13, 2003 at 04:13:25 PM EST

Let's face it; there's a real shortage of action news out there--the kind that keeps you glued to the tv all the way through the drug ads for fear you'll miss the body count; or the latest STD (you only have to think about sex and you get it and it starts on your nose where everyone can see it.) or the twister that smacked New York City all the way to Butte MT;  or the gratuitous explosions that punctuate even the slightest pause.

The government is not doing its job -- eight years of sex and lies followed by two puny little wars where we bombed mountainsides and palaces and where bloated egos were embedded with the troops who didn't even shoot them when they had the chance.

Talk about a durth of "true action news." We need an Enron of news events to corner the market on  violence, sex & scandal-- We need to recruit virtual newsmakers to keep the industry healthy.  Who cares about truth?! We want news!  Newsron  will bring us the news of tomorrow as it might have happened. I'm sure Mr. Glass is willing to serve as CEO.

Attn:- K5ers.don't throw our the fiction category. We're going to need that pack of liars.

KnottArt

Knott Art

What Exactly is to Blame? (none / 0) (#97)
by virtualjay222 on Tue May 13, 2003 at 05:17:14 PM EST

I don't know if you can blame technology for journalist fraud. It was Hearst, if I'm not mistaken, who was quoted as saying "you supply the pictures and I'll supply the war." The difference between these two? Blair pissed off his superiors, Hearst and Pulitzer resulted in the Spanish losing Cuba, the American acquisition of the Phillipines, etc...

---

I'm not in denial, I'm just selective about the reality I choose to accept.

-Calvin and Hobbes


How about the fact checkers? (none / 0) (#111)
by X3nocide on Wed May 14, 2003 at 12:49:58 PM EST

There are people paid to actually verify that facts presented in a story are actually true. I suspect that Jayson simply knew how fact checkers operate, although I would hope they check for things like "Were you interviewed by this man?"

pwnguin.net
[ Parent ]
Not in a daily newspaper (none / 0) (#121)
by rusty on Thu May 15, 2003 at 11:46:04 AM EST

You don't get fact-checkers till your lead time is a month or two. Monthly magazines have them, daily papers do not.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
journalistic accounting (none / 0) (#123)
by khallow on Thu May 15, 2003 at 12:45:22 PM EST

You don't get fact-checkers till your lead time is a month or two. Monthly magazines have them, daily papers do not.

I found it interesting when the NYC kept talking about how much it trusted this reporter and how much that trust was violated. However, they would imply that they couldn't operate like a bank, ie, audit the books and fight embezzlement.

How hard would it be to perform spot checks on reporters every so often, particularly with the major stories? Seems to me that you can trust a reporter more if you actually keep an eye on them every so often.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Depends (none / 0) (#124)
by rusty on Thu May 15, 2003 at 12:52:42 PM EST

When you're putting out a whole paper daily, there simply won't be time to fact-check most of the stories. I suppose you could randomly fact-check afterward, as a sort of check-up on things. That probably wouldn't be a bad idea, really. It wouldn't prevent errors from getting into print, but it could have caught this kind of thing much earlier.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
sure, that's the point (none / 0) (#137)
by khallow on Fri May 16, 2003 at 11:35:15 PM EST

When you're putting out a whole paper daily, there simply won't be time to fact-check most of the stories. I suppose you could randomly fact-check afterward, as a sort of check-up on things. That probably wouldn't be a bad idea, really. It wouldn't prevent errors from getting into print, but it could have caught this kind of thing much earlier.

Exactly my point. It doesn't have to be real time, frequent, or rigorous. Just check every so often that the facts in the story jive with reality.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

My reportorial gaffs (none / 0) (#130)
by johnny on Fri May 16, 2003 at 06:46:29 AM EST

I wrote a story for Salon a while back in which I implied that the fictional character Horatio Hornblower had been a real person. This was an oversight--or sloppy writing--on my part, and it caused Salon, and me, a wee bit of embarrassment.

When I wrote my next article for Salon, about Hugh Loebner and Artificial Intelligence, I asked my editor for fact-checking support. He explained that "Big" news stories could get such support. My story was an essay, not news, and Salon did not have the resources to fact-check for me. "Make sure you get it right," my editor told me.

Alas I messed up again. This time the gaff was larger. I used the term "the late" to describe a person still very much alive. An alert reader called this to my attention, and the story was immediately corrected. I then found the person's phone number to call up and apologize. That was not so fun.

"How could you have made such a mistake," he asked. I didn't have a good answer. I had it in my notes that he had passed on. I didn't check. I won't make that mistake again.

I'm working on a third article. I'm trying to be as meticulous as I can be about facts, but I'm still afraid that I'll make some bonehead mistake. Rusty's right: even at big & established places like the Times (& Salon?), the editors must rely on the skill and integrity of the reporters.

yr frn,
jrs
Get your free download of prizewinning novels Acts of the Apostles and Cheap Complex Devices.
[ Parent ]

Help? (4.00 / 1) (#132)
by rusty on Fri May 16, 2003 at 10:44:29 AM EST

If you want, send me a copy of the new article before you file and I'll try to highlight all the things you claim to be facts, so that you can check them.

I don't think this is really your fault. When you work on something like that, you get so close to it that it can be really hard to see the trees for the forest. See also difficulty in self-proofreading. Probably this is the major source of the feeling everyone has that reporters always get something wrong.

But I would rather have a hundred articles written that honestly (if mistakenly) claim I'm dead than one where the reporter came in already knowing what the story was going to be and massaged the facts to fit the idea. As long as you can point to your article and say "That is the simply truth as far as I could determine it" I don't think you have anything to be ashamed of.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

maybe I'll finish (none / 0) (#135)
by johnny on Fri May 16, 2003 at 04:04:07 PM EST

writing it if I ever solve my housing crisis. Thanks, I'll send you an email over the weekend.

yr frn,
jrs
Get your free download of prizewinning novels Acts of the Apostles and Cheap Complex Devices.
[ Parent ]
One-sentence paragraphs (none / 0) (#100)
by Bnonn on Tue May 13, 2003 at 09:02:53 PM EST

    But I also hear some melodrama in the above revelation of Blair's electronically-concealed whereabouts. One-sentence paragraphs add a dramatic charge to prose, as anyone who's ever read Stephen King knows.
When I was studying journalism, we were taught to make all our paragraphs one or two lines. This is a standard format for news stories, so I think you're reading a bit too much into it.

Interesting data point (5.00 / 1) (#120)
by rusty on Thu May 15, 2003 at 11:45:12 AM EST

Ok, I didn't think you'd proven your argument about distrust of tools, but what do I stumble across today? This story in the WSJ is about how to use new technology to slack off at work, and right in the middle is this paragraph:
"Some companies say these new tools are dangerous because they play into employees' increasing willingness to fudge the truth about their work life. The case of former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair, who used e-mail and a cellphone to suggest he was writing from locations he didn't visit, is one example."
Not the Times, but maybe you're on to something after all.

____
Not the real rusty
d'oh! u beat me 2 it (none / 0) (#133)
by jellied on Fri May 16, 2003 at 01:08:21 PM EST

Yes! Saw this last night and didn't get around to posting til today. And you picked the exact right quote, e.g., "...dangerous...."

Article also makes a comment closer to my own view, "...others see this as yet another legitimate technology that has been hijacked by people with skewed ethics." These tricks are like sex, they'll show up wherever they can. Human nature. The internet didn't invent pornography, it just (in the words of the WSJ article), "brought a new level of sophistication."

I also think it's funny that they waited til after the page-turn to mention Blair ... as if that's not why they wrote the article. Just a more circumspect form of competitive schadenfreude...

- - - - -

oh, ps - posted with the cool auto-format tool you showed me

[ Parent ]

I am reminded... (4.00 / 1) (#134)
by rusty on Fri May 16, 2003 at 01:24:25 PM EST

I was re-reading David F. Wallace's essay on television in A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again yesterday, and he picks out a good handful of examples where "culture critics" talking about things other than TV suddenly drag TV into their articles to act as the whipping boy for everything that they don't like. It is eerily reminescent of the way Blair suddenly shows up in the middle of this otherwise fluffy human-interest thing.

I wonder if this is going to become The Canonical Example of the evils of tools that allow themselves to be misused?

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

blame Canada (none / 0) (#136)
by jellied on Fri May 16, 2003 at 05:35:11 PM EST

I bet you could find historical examples where rock-and-roll, condoms, women's suffrage, alcohol, and the railroad were used exactly the same way.

On the other hand, it may be naive to think the mention of Blair is anything but the Journal tipping its hand regarding the context that led to the Thursday story in the first place.

[ Parent ]

Strange Behavior (none / 0) (#138)
by OldCoder on Tue May 20, 2003 at 06:55:34 PM EST

When a company fires somebody, they very rarely call a press conference to announce this. I don't know if the Times exactly called a press conference, but they surely plastered their dirty laundry all over the media. Why did they show up for NPR interviews that could only make the whole thing larger?

The Times made a mistake in hiring somebody. Not a big deal, poop happens. When they discovered the error, the guy got let go. Also not such a big deal. The normal decent thing to do is to let the guy go quietly, issue such corrections as are needed, and only explain the events, if at all, in a think piece or an autobiography a few years down the road.

The Times seemed intent on embarrassing their former employee. I can only suggest the Times management was very angry, and wanted to make absolutely sure that the perpetrator never got a job in journalism again, ever. It seems to have created some blowback, and now the Times looks like a bunch of idiots.

It was the mention of the issues of diversity and race that made the Times look dumb. Possibly, the Times management were fighting among themselves about whether to hire, then to keep, and then to fire the perpetrator, and they had decided to fire broadsides at each other in public. In effect, to embarass each other.

Apparently, public embarrassment isn't as sophisticated a weapon as the Times had hoped, or the Times itself was too unsophisticated to use it.

--
By reading this signature, you have agreed.
Copyright © 2003 OldCoder

Blaming the Tools in NYT's Misconduct Story | 138 comments (101 topical, 37 editorial, 0 hidden)
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