Dumb quote of the day--clueless and petulant about it edition

>> Friday, June 08, 2012

He duped me. Shame on me. I apologize to my readers.

As a result I will do fewer stories on the real life impact of big events which I do think the public enjoys.

There will always be people out there who want their 15 minutes of fame and not really care how they get there.
- journalist Darren Rovell, upon learning
he was completely owned by
a high-school student

Yeah, so I don't even know who Darren Rovell is, but if you click the link in the quote you can read the whole amusing piece for yourself. Short version: Rovell writes for CNBC, was hard-up for news during NBA salary negotiations, and somehow decided it was clever to solicit news hooks on Twitter. An eighteen year old decided (correctly) it would be funny to send Rovell a tweet claiming to be a high-class pimp whose business formerly depended on visiting NBA players coming into town to play, but now the cancelled games were hurting his wallet. Smelling the salaciousness, Rovell bit the hook--and hard--and rather than making any real attempt to confirm the story, contented himself with "checking" it by exchanging e-mails with the kid. And then Rovell went to press.

Which is the kid's fault, right? And now Rovell is going to punish the world by writing fewer unsourced and unchecked stories, which he's sure people enjoyed. Which is probably true enough: people do like gossip about sex and celebrities. Of course, gossip isn't news, that's why it's gossip. (Kind of reminds me of that Simpsons episode where a judge asks Lionel Hutz, the greatest TV lawyer of all time, if he has any evidence and Hutz stammers that he has hearsay and innuendo--"...and those are kinds of evidence....")

I didn't go to J-school, so forgive my presumptuousness, but I would have just assumed that if I were writing about the economic fallout of a labor dispute, asking for anecdotes from a million anonymous people and 'bots on Twitter would not be my first research go-to. And if I did, for whatever stupid reason, have some kind of brain-thing that caused me to do something that kinda-dumb, and I latched onto some anonymous story as having sex appeal or "human interest" or whatever to liven up an otherwise dull money story, that I would do more for verification than exchange e-mails. You know, ask to speak to real actual humans on the phone or in face-to-face interviews if practical, try to corroborate the real existence of sources, see if there were others in the same situation (if nothing else, one person is a fluke, not a trend), etc.

Hasn't Darren Rovell heard? On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog. It's, like, rule number one. Rovell's doing sports, it appears; I can only hope he doesn't get transferred to international, lest he'll be doing thousand-word stories on the epidemic of Nigerian princesses who are having trouble getting their funds released from corrupt officials in their homeland. He'll be blameless for any misinformation, of course: they said they were Nigerian princesses, didn't they, and some people will do anything to become famous--even if they forget all about the prank for months and months until a friend suggests they tell Deadspin about it and Deadspin doesn't even run their last name.

Yep. That "Tim" sure is milking this one for all it's worth.


Warner Friday, June 8, 2012 at 9:21:00 AM EDT  

Check sources, that is so unprofessional.

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