Re: Journalistic Standards

1

Oh, I'm so glad you posted that. The only notable thing about the piece.

And for those of us griping about Deborah Solomon's Q&A ethics a few months back, I just now saw this quasi-explanatory non-apology from the Public Editor.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:09 PM
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2

Oh, c'mon. It's Modern Love. I don't take People as gospel either.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:10 PM
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3

Who would write a ML column if you knew that NYT fact-checkers were going to call all your exes? (shudder)


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:12 PM
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4

2: heretic!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:15 PM
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5

What about journalism has led you to believe that quotes are so sacred?


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:18 PM
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What about journalism has led you to believe that quotes are so sacred?

Are you serious? Very long experience has taught me that quotations are often not at all sacred. However, when you listen to (some) journalists and (many) news organizations, you might be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Why else would they make a deal out of the fact that Solomon uses a tape recorder?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:27 PM
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7

Is ML journalism?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:30 PM
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8

Why else would they make a deal out of the fact that Solomon uses a tape recorder?

But the pretense is part of the game. Don't ruin it for everyone!


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:33 PM
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Is ML journalism?

Creative non-fiction, I always thought. But it's the mark of a lazy writer to put all the exposition in implausible quotations, anyway.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:35 PM
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10

Also, is it "authors' memory"? I never know what to do with plurals in that situation. (w-lfs-n!)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:37 PM
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If each article only has a single author it should be "author's memory".

But why would you trust me?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:40 PM
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12

Sifu, indeed, cannot be trusted in this matter. The Times sentence discusses multiple essays that have multiple authors. Therefore "authors' " is correct.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:45 PM
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However, the use of the word "memory" implies a singular author; otherwise it would be "authors' memories."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:50 PM
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14

I was being facetious. I'll let you in on an industry secret. Those recorders? They don't even have tape in them.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:56 PM
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15

No tapes?! They're not even recorders, just Crackerjack boxes painted black.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 7:14 PM
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I thought it was pretty common for memoirs to use reconstructed dialogue, a genre to which I assumed Modern Love columns belong.

Do people not automatically read this sort of dialogue skeptically?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 7:19 PM
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17

They're not real crackerjack boxes, either. They're thumbtack boxes the same shape as a crackerjack box.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 7:27 PM
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18

What a ripoff this column was. It's called "Modern Love", not "Modern Home Repair".

I guess after you've been married a decade all the passion that once went into romance is now channeled into redoing your kitchen.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 7:28 PM
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19

Do people not automatically read this sort of dialogue skeptically?

I think it depends on the person, and how accustomed they are to the conventions of the genre.

That said, I'd bet a nickel that this particular editors' note was necessary because so many of the ML authors' subjects (exes, parents, employers, etc.) are thinly disguised and easy to Google-track, and the social circle they come from is pretty small.

It's not like your high school ex quotes something dumb you said in a fight and eight people in her college class read it. It's more like your neighbor does it and publishes it in the co-op newsletter.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 7:29 PM
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I thought it was pretty common for memoirs to use reconstructed dialogue

Unless you're James Frey, in which case you use a reconstructed life.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 7:30 PM
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21

I'm probably exaggerating my own skepticism anyway: I tend to figure the specific words are reconstructed from memory - who takes notes on everyday conversations? - while generally figuring that they did talk about the things the dialogue is about. But lots of memoirs can be more unreliable than that.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 7:35 PM
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22

If you don't even bother with the recorder, you're an editor.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 7:36 PM
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23

This is the funniest piece in the Times style section this week. Definitely deserves its own post:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/28/fashion/28wurtzel.html?_r=1&ref=fashion&oref=slogin


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 7:48 PM
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24

"Stories in the Times are reconstructed from thinktank press releases, conversations with PR flacks, really good lines from old issues of Life, bits of gossip heard at three martini lunches with other journalists and chunks of dried snot. Do not take internally. Large doses are toxic. Use only as directed."

max
['Just like Pravda but 100% better!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 7:51 PM
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25

Deborah Solomon sure is dreadful.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 8:30 PM
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26

Actually, I propose that this be the basis for our Modern Love discussion this week:

http://gawker.com/news/money-changes-everything/elizabeth-dewberry-left-robert-olen-butler-to-join-ted-turners-collection-284346.php

But nobody ever takes my suggestions.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 9:05 PM
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27

BOBBY KIELTY?!@#?!#@!#@?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 9:07 PM
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28

whoops wrong thread sorry


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 9:08 PM
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29

26 is nuts.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 9:08 PM
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30

And so many layers of nuts. You can't even quote from it, it would be a loss to single out just one nut from the box.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 9:16 PM
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31

26 is indeed batshit. First I thought the high point was the abusive grandad. Then I was thinking the "shadow of the pulitzer" was hard to beat. But by the time I got to

Then, in March, she nearly died from an intestinal blockage in Argentina while on a trip with Ted. The trauma of that led her further to profoundly question her own identity

I didn't know what the hell to believe anymore.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 9:20 PM
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Blockquotes, Gonerill! House style!

Anyway, I felt the climax was:

Ted is permanently and avowedly non-monogamous. But though he has several girlfriends, it is a very small number, and he does not take them up lightly

I guess he learned his lesson with Jane Fonda.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 9:22 PM
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33

I remember reading that when it was first posted, in July.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 12:02 AM
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34
Not to sound callous, but I no longer wanted to hear about court hearings or custody. All I wanted to hear was his truck pulling into our driveway. I wanted to hear his hammering and stapling as he built the stairs to the attic. I even wanted to hear the branch-snapping crash of construction waste plummeting from the attic onto my rhododendron.

Wait, hang on, I had some sympathy around here somewhere… [clangs around in back room] No. Wait. Never mind. Fresh out.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 12:45 AM
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35

How come Metropolitan Diaries gets no love here? It is way funnier than Modern Love. And shorter and less dreadful.


Posted by: Willy Voet | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 4:06 AM
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36

23 proves once again the prescience of a mid-90's Spy magazine article on "Failing Up", in which Liz Wurtzel was held out as the paradigmatic example of a person whose punishment for failing at a series of prestigious jobs is to be awarded ever more prestigious jobs.

She was the first person I ever knew with a pierced nose (sheltered upbringing, I had), and I have to say I found it a little sexy despite myself.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 5:31 AM
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We prize long dreadful things around here, Voet. You still have not learned our ways. Almost all of us read (and reread) Richardson's Clarissa in the unabridged version.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 5:47 AM
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38

From the ombuds column linked in 1:

The Times's Manual of Style and Usage says that readers have a right to assume that every word in quotation marks is what was actually said.

So.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 5:51 AM
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39

The protocol is a simple one: "So I was like '....' and she was like '...', and then I said like '....'"

Not just valleyspeak or stoner talk. An important discursive clue!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 10:19 AM
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40

Ms. Wurtzel denied that these reversals of literary fortune had anything to do with her decision to apply to law school. The events of 9/11, she said, left her paralyzed with fear and largely unable to write.

"I really had the feeling that the whole world had gone crazy," she said. "I felt very powerless. If I'd been a lawyer, I would have known what to do."

Um, what?

Other bits of awesomeness:

a framed copy of Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" hangs in the bathroom.

and one bookshelf is given over largely to various editions of Ms. Wurtzel's works.

Early on, she didn't bother handing in a required assignment in her civil procedure class. "I thought, why should I do this?" she said. "I really had some kind of attitude problem."

Fight the power, Elizabeth! Freak out those squares!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 11:03 AM
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The Economist online archives unfortunately do not go back far enough to find it, but there was an outrageously good line in their review of Prozac Nation. Referring to the part where the narrator confesses that she gave blowjobs so compulsively and indiscriminately around campus that her lips became chapped, the reviewer writes something along the lines of "A generation of male Harvard students is kicking themselves for missing the opportunity."


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 11:20 AM
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42: And it turns out the chapping was because of the cold dry winter, not all the cocksucking, which wasn't all that profligate as these things go. Ask Labs.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 11:53 AM
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43

19: In this particular case, I'm guessing it has more to do with the fact that the author is actually suing at least one of the contractors in the article.


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 12:10 PM
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44

I really had the feeling that the whole world had gone crazy," she said. "I felt very powerless. If I'd been a lawyer, I would have known what to do."

Post on Unfogged!

Just kidding! Actually, you should sue somebody.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 12:45 PM
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We prize long dreadful things around here

That's what she said!


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 9:00 PM
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35: I have mentioned before that I published in Metro Diary. I got a lovely mug, my favorite until it broke. I have thought about trying to get something else in there so I can get another mug. Maybe I'll try to get a whole set. They're beautiful, and probably expensive.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 9:04 PM
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