Monday, June 30, 2008

Journalistic Credulity

Continuing with the theme of crappy journalism, this weekend on Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!, I learned about a hoax perpetrated on the New York Times back in 1992.

Rick Marin wrote an article about "grunge music" and the Seattle alternative music scene that appeared in the "Styles" section on November 15. Apparently he wanted a lexicon of slang, and so he turned to Seattle-based Sub Pop Records for advice. Sales rep Megan Jasper reportedly just made up a bunch of phrases on the spot, such as

Swingin' on the flippity-flop: hanging out

Harsh realm: bummer

Cob nobbler: loser

Lamestain: uncool person

This made-up lexicon was swallowed whole by Marin, and the Times apparently printed it without any fact-checking.

Maybe Marin isn't representative of journalism as a whole, but the lesson still is that a good journalist ought to be skeptical of all claims, and make a serious effort to fact-check. Rick Marin: what a lamestain!

3 comments:

csrster said...

You want to read about crappy journalism, try this:
http://www.badscience.net/2008/06/roger-coghill-fails-the-aids-test/

(Short summary: random loon who claims that mobile-phone masts lead to teen suicide gets front page coverage, the title "Dr." and the status "government adviser". Same random loon believes AIDS is caused by EM fields.)

Bayesian Bouffant, FCD said...

Rick Marin: what a lamestain!

If you're going to pick the low-hanging fruit, that won't leave much for the rest of us.

The Commentator said...

The NYT sure have a habit of this. Then again, they do have Dowd on the payroll. But she writes "well" so...