Bad Reporter, Good Reporter

Call me a sentimental old git, but I am of the opinion that when a man dies, people should remember basic things about him, like, his age. I’m astounded that my random survey of 20 news agencies found that 90% of those reporting Stephen Furst’s death got his age wrong.

This might seem like a minor point, but it’s not. The simple fact is that this means that in their rush to report a news event in a contemporaneous manner, meaning to be quick enough that Twitter users retweet their posts instead of their competitors’, they simply copied each others’ news reports without adding anything of substance or doing any primary or secondary research. This means they read the first report and put out their “news” report, blog post, or blurb while either copying the loose facts or simply saying “according to reports … .”

Dear Sirs and Madams, that is NOT your FUCKING job. How about you do some of it, hmm? A simple 35-second, secondary-investigatory Google search would have revealed that Wikipedia and IMDB stated the man was born 8 May 1955, making him 62, not 63. Perhaps that would have also enabled you to add some relevant facts, like that he was from Norfolk, Virginia, or even a list of all of his work. Goodness, while we’re on that train, perhaps you might have taken the time to talk with his spokesman or a family member to confirm that the published information about him was correct. Oh, I know you didn’t do that, so don’t pretend, because NONE of you reported the date of the man’s birth, or even the year, as is standard practice. It wasn’t due to space; it was because you didn’t know.

As a self-appointed spokesman of professional editing and intelligent people everywhere, let me say that I am most disappointed that I am not even a little surprised. We don’t give two damns about your being first. We only care about your being right.

There is no fake news. There is only news, bullshit, and bad reporting. The latter two things are the same thing.

Stop quoting Variety. They aren’t always right. Here’s my random sample of this week’s good reporting / bad reporting.

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