Cafe Witness

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Steve Garfield vs. The Wall Street Journal

Yesterday, Steve Garfield found a problem with a Wall Street Journal article that referenced the blog he creates with his mother, Millie. His problem? The article was filled with factual errors and misrepresentations.

In a nutshell: the article portrays the blog as Millie's way of staving off memory loss, and paints her relationship with Steve as something more contentious than it ever is. It seemed their story was being strained through a pre-determined filter to meet the needs of the reporter's angle.

So, Steve contacted the WSJ, only to get the runaround from the reporter.

Compounding the issue, that article is now being syndicated through OTHER newspapers that are redistributing the wrong information. At this stage, it's nearly impossible to stop the spread of incorrect information. Even a retraction or correction won't change the fact that anyone who's read that article will have THAT version lodged in their memory banks.

As Steve says:
If the Wall Street Journal can't even get the facts right in a human interest story, what are they doing on the real news?
It all comes down to intractability: once something is in print, it's incredibly hard to make corrections. Contrast this to blogs, where everything is fluid, and you can see why print media is in trouble.

Of course, you can also see why society has been in trouble for hundreds of years, since the printing press had made it nearly impossible to correct a mistake -- or a lie -- after it's been circulated for a day... or a week... or a generation...

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home