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Fat Steve's Archives

| Tuesday, July 19, 2005

appearance check


      I refer to the MSM, and it's lack of basic integrity.

<ul><li><em>The New York Times <u><strong>makes stuff up and puts it into articles with other people's names on them.</em></strong></u>

<li>They regard this as <strong><em>a service to the author</em></strong>.

<li><em>They don't see any ethical problem in it</em>.

<li>They do worry a little about reader's perceptions.</ul>
At Length:


      I refer to the MSM, and it's lack of basic integrity.

  • The New York Times makes stuff up and puts it into articles with other people's names on them.

  • They regard this as a service to the author.

  • They don't see any ethical problem in it.

  • They do worry a little about reader's perceptions.

At Length:

    Phillip Carter, blogger and writer, is also an Army Reservist.  He submitted an op-ed to The New York Times in "early June."  The subject was military recruiting.  Then, after deciding to publish it, but while the Times was still "editing" it, he mailed them that he'd been recalled to active duty.  The Times said it decided that the column should mention that.  So far, this all strikes me as reasonable, if abysmally slow (the op-ed wouldn't be published till July 5th, about a month after submission).

      So, when they decided to mention that Carter had been called-up, they immediately put that information on the bottom of the column, where it tells a little about the author, right?  No, they didn't.  They decided that the Times should have more than that bare announcement.

      So, they called Carter up, and said, 'Hey, we really want to add something to the column, telling our readers how you got called up.  What would you suggest?'  And Carter then told them that he'd asked to be called up, so the editor said 'OK, here in paragraph whatever, where it says blah-blah, why don't I add in parentheses 'I have recently been called up for active service myself, and will be going to Iraq.  This will occur because I requested duty in Iraq).'  That's what the Times did, right?

      No, what the editorial page editor did was rather different.  The editor made some stuff up, and added it to the article.  Making things up and ascribing them to someone else is apparently normal practice at the Times, where it is considered a service to the author.  If I hadn't read that in the Times itself, I wouldn't have believed it.

      The Times then sent the changes to Carter, and got told "no way."  But, do to a "production error," and a failure to send the final column text to Carter for approval, "as a strict adherence to the standards of the Op-Ed pages would seem to require," the version with the made-up quotes went up on the web site and into the paper.

      When Carter checked the website, he called the Times and demanded the article be pulled.  It was, although some papers had already been distributed with the incorrect version.

      So the Times ran a correction the next day that said:
      "The Op-Ed page in some copies yesterday carried an incorrect version of an article about military recruitment.  The writer, an Army reserve officer, did not say, 'Imagine my surprise the other day when I received orders to report to Fort Campbell, Ky., next Sunday,' nor did he characterize his recent call-up to active duty as the precursor to a 'surprise tour of Iraq.'  That language was added by an editor and was to have been removed before the article was published.  Because of a production error, it was not.  The Times regrets the error."

      Surprise, surprise!  Readers thought that editors shouldn't be adding things to articles.  The "public editor" writes:
      The next morning, Gail Collins, editor of the editorial page, and Mr. [David] Shipley[, the editor in charge of the Op-Ed pages], began work on the editors' note, the strongest of the corrective statements The Times publishes. Clearly, they didn't try to minimize the mistakes that had been made. But because they did not take a little more space to explain how the "surprise" phrases had surfaced as part of the give-and-take of the editing and updating process, readers were left to suspect the worst. And that fed perceptions of a serious ethical lapse at The Times.

      "It did not occur to me to get into a more detailed explanation of the editorial process," Mr. Shipley said. "In hindsight, maybe I should have added a line or two. It was already pretty long and complicated, though."

      Even with this sorting out of the mistakes actually made and the mistaken perceptions of some readers, the doubts about the paper's credibility stirred up by this incident won't be easily erased.

      Oh, those pesky perceptions.  Somehow the idiot readers got the idea that when someone's name appears on an article, they wrote it.  They don't realize that the Times accepts pieces from people who can't express themselves clearly, and alters them.  And when the dummy customers find out, they think altering an article that way, while leaving the original name on it, is unethical.

      How does anyone get such a strange idea?  Oh, yeah, now I remember: because it is dishonest to ascribe words to people they didn't speak.  Funny, ain't it, that the proles can figure that out, but The New York Times can't.

      In completely unrelated news, the Times, once considered the "world's premiere newspaper" by twenty-one percent of a "global poll of journalists, politicians, and business executives," making it the most trusted paper in the world, is now so considered by only eight percent, causing it to slip to sixth place.

      Jesus, I wish I could make up stuff this bizarre.  Hat tips to Austin Bay and bizzyblog for the links.



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