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Bad Journalism

I am no fan of what passes for journalism on the internet, but I've got to admit, I have been taken aback by the sheer amount of bullshit that's been proliferating all over the web about our Stagecoach Foundation initiative... some of it posted on what I would have previously regarded as reputable news outlets with familiar names, but almost all of it off-base and, well... wrong.

There seems to be some sort of grotesque echo chamber effect going on here. These stories are not only full of errors, but they are the same errors. Rather than checking facts with the primary sources, the writers here (I will not call them 'reporters') are just copying from one another.

When I was in journalism school at Northwestern, we were drilled in the head every day with Joseph Pulitzer's famous maxim, "Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy." That seems to have gone out of favor, at least on the internet.

Instead I am put in mind of Jonathan Swift, who said, "Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it."

So please allow me to come limping up long enough to say:
-- the Stagecoach building is not 30,000 square feet. Someone pulled that number out of their ass, and dozens of other reports have repeated it. That's a rough approximate figure for MEOW WOLF, an entirely different place on the other side of Santa Fe. The Stagecoach building is perhaps a third that size,
-- I did not "build" Stagecoach. David Weininger did that in 1999, as the headquarters for his compnay, Daylight Chemical Information Systems,
-- I am not "opening a film studio." Stagecoach is a non-profit foundation dedicated to bringing more film and television production to Santa Fe, it is not a film studio,
-- there are no sound stages at Stagecoach (though there are several here in town, at the Santa Fe Studios and the Greer Garson Studios). It's an office building, and will be used primarily for pre- and post-production purposes,
-- I am not going to be "running" a foundation, much less a studio. That task I've given to a dynamic young lady named Marisa X. Jimenez, who helped open Santa Fe Studios here in town, and who will have total charge of the day-to-day operations of Stagecoach, under a board of directors.

If there are any real journalists out there who would like to do an accurate story about the Stagecoach Foundation and our plans for it, Marisa is the person to contact, at Marisa@stagecoachfdn.org. She'll be glad to send you our press release and answer your questions. In the meantime, hey, can people please stop making shit up?

Comments

( 44 comments — Leave a comment )
ADragonDemands
Mar. 19th, 2017 07:13 pm (UTC)
To whom much has been given, much will be demanded.
To whom much has been given, much will be demanded.

Sentimental words, but ones I've tried to live by.
mercedene
Mar. 19th, 2017 07:13 pm (UTC)
Fake news, as Joffrey Trump would say. It's sweeping the nation.
gman109
Mar. 20th, 2017 01:40 am (UTC)
lol
Joffery Trump...LOL. How is it I've never seen that anywhere before, you need to talk to George about TM'ing that. Hilarious.
geekfurious
Mar. 19th, 2017 07:16 pm (UTC)
lazy journalism
I blame EIC's for allowing their reporters to turn in inaccurate stories and for not checking sources before allowing the information to be posted. Some of these issues could so easily be checked for errors by virtually ANYONE in the chain of command at these news sites and blogs that there is little excuse for it happening so frequently. Speed to print and hits/money being the greatest priority for posting a story is to blame for reporters simply siphoning off other lazy writers. But allowing it to continue is the fault of management.
norvernmonkey
Mar. 19th, 2017 07:19 pm (UTC)
Denzel Washington said it right on the FENCES red carpet. He said its "the need to be first, not even to be true anymore"
srdrbr
Mar. 19th, 2017 07:22 pm (UTC)
Disgrace
You cleaned up the confusion quite nicely, I don't know how they got all those false ideas, since I informed myself pretty well just by reading your post about Stagecoach here. If only those "journalists" read it they would knew what it is all about.

Being a journalist myself I am ashamed (come to think of it I am not, am just angry) at what passes for journalism on the internet. Endless plagiarism, copying, lack of checking and real investigative spirit.

Usually when I have some bigger story, you know like extensive research and such I have to spend half the page explaining what did idiots in daily newspapers and online news sites (gunslingers I call them because to them it is most important to shot first, to be the first to publish, really appropriate with the Stagecoach and all) do wrong. With enjoyment, humorous quips and scathing remarks I have to admit, but bad journalists deserve to be laughed out of the room alongside editors who condone that kind of behavior.

HamWalowitz
Mar. 19th, 2017 07:41 pm (UTC)
In the words of the departed Great, Chuck Berry, 'Go, Georgie, Go. Go!'
_wwwera_
Mar. 19th, 2017 08:08 pm (UTC)
don't bother yourself with this bullshit, we love you and your projects all the way :)
8_santababy_8
Mar. 19th, 2017 08:10 pm (UTC)
Lazy journalism
Thank you so much for bringing attention to this. Lazy internet journalism has been a fixture of the web for a while, but has only started becoming a big issue in the past few years. I'm glad to see people with big voices and integrity finally weighing in on it. Keep fighting the good fights!

As a side note: do you ever plan on attending cons in the Louisville, KY area?
grrm
Mar. 19th, 2017 08:36 pm (UTC)
Re: Lazy journalism
No immediate plans, though I do love Louisville... I have fond memories of the Galt House and the Belle.

Whenever my book tours take me to Kentucky, however, they always send me to Lexington, not to Louisville.
8_santababy_8
Mar. 19th, 2017 08:43 pm (UTC)
Re: Lazy journalism
Lexington is more fun, anyway. Good judgement on their part.
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Mar. 19th, 2017 08:36 pm (UTC)
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nerdoldnerdith
Mar. 19th, 2017 08:43 pm (UTC)
Sadly, that's how journalism seems to work these days with the free market of online publications competing for clicks and views. At one point in time journalists had a reputation to uphold by breaking stories and reporting facts. Since these sites are mostly free now, their main source of revenue is from ads. Their modus operandi is to use buzzwords and big names (especially yours, since a lot of people want to know what you're up to these days) to get people to click on their articles and then the ads they place next to them. The content of these articles is more or less irrelevant so long as people show up. Fake news really is a huge problem with the new internet face of journalism.
demonicnuisance
Mar. 19th, 2017 10:47 pm (UTC)
Bad Journalism
I totally agree. I literally check at least 2-3 times daily for updates on winds so I'm constantly seeing examples of people just making shit up and pulling so called facts out of their asses. What's worse is that the next person regurgitates the previous BS while adding another steaming pile of crap that he/she conjured up onto the last one. Eventually you've got an article so full of falsehoods stretching back 6 months or more it's like they're playing ridiculous a game of telephone. That's why I always check here first. It would definitely be refreshing to read something from one of those so called news sites that actually contained a fact or two. Alas no matter how annoying I see no end in sight because sadly not many people these days take pride in their work and would rather take the easy road than the bumpy one.
gman109
Mar. 20th, 2017 01:46 am (UTC)
Re: Bad Journalism
Yes, it's really sad to see how far so many "reputable" publications have fallen, from all sides of the political landscape. Every single one has been busted for outrageous cases of exaggeration, and outright lying. For journalism majors, like George, my wife, others - it understand how it's personal and is pissing them off, I get daily earfuls about just how pathetic it's getting.

After Trump winning, both sides in the press have been on the warpath, and the fallout is now affecting everyone, look at this incident, a small but great story about a new GRRM endeavor - even though as he's explained he isn't holding the reigns directly - is getting screwed over by it.

What happened to America? It's hard to know how to feel, daily swings from disappointed, to angry, to apathetic, then back around to furious. Where have all the great news men, and women, gone?

It's just so typical, right when the world figures out to have us all connected and have instant access to news, we decide to have the news be twisted into something dishonest, more frequently used to settle vendettas than to spread accurate information.
sdschaffer
Mar. 21st, 2017 12:07 am (UTC)
Re: Bad Journalism
Trump's victory has proven to be a nigh existential dilemma for modern journalism. For years, they've tried to demonstrate 'neutrality' and thwart accusations of bias through the laziest approach: putting out the talking points of one side vs. the talking points of the other and doing a half-hearted job of making it clear when the overwhelming majority of the evidence supports one side and refutes the other. Their purpose wasn't truth, but to avoid offending potential viewers who might find some truth offensive.

All of that works reasonably well with a George W. Bush or a Mitt Romney, who can at least make that bare minimum effort to conceal when they're BSing. But what do you do when the politician is a pathological liar? When it becomes unclear whether he's even capable of recognizing the difference between truth and falsehood, what is real and what he would prefer to be real? You can't pretend that one side of a dispute is equal to the other when the former is literally just making shit up as it goes.
sdschaffer
Mar. 19th, 2017 11:13 pm (UTC)
Why should they bother? There's no money in accuracy. There's a lot more money in clickbait: celebrity gossip, adorable viral videos of puppies and so forth. There's also money in feeding people's ideological preconceptions with 'news' (reality based or otherwise) tailored to tell them things they want to hear and nothing that challenges them.

Accuracy requires time and effort and, ultimately, seems to be irrelevant to a large portion of the American public, who will basically just go on and believe whatever most flatters their existing attitudes anyway.
Williamjames Hoffer
Mar. 20th, 2017 01:02 am (UTC)
Lazy Journalism
Ooops. They got to you didn't they? Don't let them get you down. As long as you do what is right, the rest will surely follow. Nah, I'm just kidding. Sometimes, maybe most of the time, you get beat. To quote a movie, the only thing I do anymore besides ASOIAF quotes, it is not in the fall, but in the rising afterwards that you find the measure of the man.
evan_adams
Mar. 20th, 2017 01:16 am (UTC)
gutenberg printing press
Imagine how got would be different if old Town invented a gutenberg printing press. Imagine the journalism by Raven.
Stringer Bill
Mar. 20th, 2017 01:33 am (UTC)
There is always the Christian Science Monitor.
angelos_l
Mar. 20th, 2017 03:02 am (UTC)
Thanks for this post. I've been seeing these ''reports'' for a few days now, and many of them were even written with an ironic tone which I found very irritating, so I can't imagine how you must have felt.
RyanBiddulph
Mar. 20th, 2017 03:05 am (UTC)
Speed to Market
Hi George,

Denzel said it best; the need for speed overtakes the patient search for truth on this one.

Ryan
moon_flower666
Mar. 20th, 2017 04:19 am (UTC)
Clicks.
They are just greedy for clicks so they just slap someone's name on their article and throw their journalistic integrity out of the window (if they ever had any in the first place). Not even big names like Wall Street Journal are immune to the lust for clicks and sensationalism. The truth is almost an irrelevant factor in such stories. It's like yellow press all over again.
musicman
Mar. 20th, 2017 08:16 am (UTC)
Thank you for speaking up in favor of facts. As a retired Research Editor, I spend my days writing and researching - mostly researching - factually-based, primary source history books. (on other days, I'm working on writing science fiction, but I know the difference between fiction and non-fiction) Every day, I see the the nonsense spouted by the Trumpists, and by the man pretending to be president in the White House, and I want to scream, and throw the words back and tell them to go back and do it over until it is accurate, and based on facts. Of course, that won't happen. But thank you: not all fact checking has gone out of favor.
xenaclone
Mar. 20th, 2017 08:50 am (UTC)
::Hugs::

Here, have a bullshit button

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPuli9LlwZA
ianholmes
Mar. 20th, 2017 10:04 am (UTC)
Dave Weininger
George, did you know David Weininger well? Such an eclectic fellow -I met him in 1999 when I moved to Santa Fe. I recall his star parties, and his stories: for example, his claim that the marble for his kitchen sink was obtained by bribing the owners of a marble quarry with home-made chocolate cake, which he regarded as the ultimate currency of bribery ("stronger than heroin"). Was sad to learn of his passing, and happy to see you mention him.
grrm
Mar. 20th, 2017 12:01 pm (UTC)
RE: Dave Weininger
I only met him once, but he was an amazing man and a rare spirit.
octopus_garden
Mar. 20th, 2017 10:17 am (UTC)
What has happened to journalism is quite sad, and if opinions were asked, I'd blame cable news, and the rush to be first with "a story" rather than "the story". It seems that sources aren't properly vetted, and the competition has made accuracy a casualty.
octopus_garden
Mar. 20th, 2017 10:21 am (UTC)
Adding to the comment I posted (using the quick comment box) I also blame the inclusion of so many pretty "talking heads" who really don't have any kind of background other than they look good on camera.

Dan Rather made a slip or two, but he was a reporter. Rachel Maddow may over-hype things (see Trump's tax return) but I think she investigates and vets her stories.

Internet "journalism" is rarely that-it's usually just glorified blogging. That's sad, especially since so few people read anymore. I'm not talking New York Times reading, I mean they don't even read something like Newspaper Lite (USA Today for instance).

Well, I guess we are dinosaurs.
sdschaffer
Mar. 20th, 2017 11:02 am (UTC)
Are you familiar with Joey Skaggs, the performance artist who pranks the media to (among other things) demonstrate how widespread shoddy fact checking is?

I can't help but feel his work is more important now than it's ever been, and hope others take up his mantle when he has shuffled off this mortal coil.
Aurlien Gouriou
Mar. 20th, 2017 02:04 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, now the Internet journalism is really questionable... They don't cross the sources, they don't really care if the info is true... The only objective is the number of clicks... Bad future for the Internet press :( .
Have a great day G.R.R.M.
gruelestx
Mar. 20th, 2017 02:55 pm (UTC)
Sensationalism in the (Dis)Information age during the information war, spearheaded by an orange demagogue...
Strzyga Karolina
Mar. 20th, 2017 03:15 pm (UTC)
The Truth
Well, as Sir Terry Pratchett put it, “a lie can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on.” Thank you for clearing things up.
ken_brown_w2kb
Mar. 20th, 2017 08:19 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately the bad journalism phenomenon seems to have become pervasive. Here in NJ the majority of news now is distributed by web, with NJdotCom being the largest news entity. That consists of several of the traditional newspapers, Star Ledger, Jersey Journal, etc., but often what is reported has errors or is very incomplete as if the reporter did not engage in followups and due diligence to obtain all the facts. In fairness to the reporters, many were laid off over the past several years which may have left those remaining under pressure to produce with inadequate time to fully explore the topic. Other articles also appear to simply repeat what was reported elsewhere without confirmation of the accuracy of the source report.
astalnar
Mar. 20th, 2017 10:36 pm (UTC)
It's a bitch when the media lies about you, isn't it? But it's not half bad when they drag your opponents through mud... The news of such behaviour by our esteemed journalistic class truly saddens the puppies around the world. Who could have thought, they would stoop so low, and resort to lies, obfuscations, and blatant fallacies? Is there no integrity left on this world?!

]:)
grrm
Mar. 21st, 2017 01:00 am (UTC)
Lies and fallacies are not the issue here.

The issue I am pointing to is one of simple fact.

A building is 30,000 square feet or it is 10,000 square feet. There are no "opponents" here, no issues involved, no room for different views. Simple fact. How large is the building? Anyone pretending to be a journalist should be able to get that right.
laviniagrace
Mar. 20th, 2017 11:56 pm (UTC)
journalism
The real problem is people, without any journalism background, calling themselves journalists solely because they can write. If they write for an online newspaper, they are suddenly journalists. It's the same with writing. I can write, therefore I can be a writer, then you mention the AP Stylebook and they don't know what that is. 'Well, you shouldn't write numbers in different styles within a single story' and they don't get it, the idea that things should be kept uniform - across the board. Yes, those things are drilled into you in journalism school. Along with edit, edit, edit and 'less is more'. There's no substitute to slogging it out and getting the degree. I have a BA in journalism. If I see I made a typo anywhere I cringe, even if it is an extra space. And fact-checking does not mean going to the University of Google for the answers.

laviniagrace
Mar. 21st, 2017 04:48 pm (UTC)
I just saw that stories have already been posted basically copying things you said above and adding some Twitter comments and then making digs at you not finishing your next book. That is what passes for journalism now. You just surf the web, find things already written and then cut and paste. Oh and add an insult because why treat anyone with respect? I was surprised to see that Rolling Stone seems to troll this blog, cutting and pasting things you have said here. News stories should just be links. A headline and a bunch of links to Twitter comments and your blog where you said whatever. Don't even bother with poorly-worded filler text. Why? because the less time you spend writing a story, the sooner you can get back to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and email. I think the true problem is the internet and people's diminishing attention spans.
Santa Fe Studios
Mar. 21st, 2017 07:31 pm (UTC)
to set the record straight
We welcome the Stagecoach Foundation, and its stated mission to help the local fimmaking community's up and comers. While the Coen Brothers are certainly not just finding their feet in Hollywood, nor is Megan Ellison (one of the wealthiest women in the world) in need of cheap offices, let's hope that actual local up and coming filmmakers get the opportunity to work at the Stagecoach Foundation.

One minor point, since we're setting the record straight: Marissa Jimenez worked at Santa Fe Studios for a little over a year, and this was well after it had been already established as Northern New Mexico's premiere film studio facility.
Heather Blumer
Mar. 22nd, 2017 01:00 am (UTC)
Daylight and Dave
I worked at Daylight years ago and worked in the building Dave donated. After reading the stories I figured perhaps he had anonymously donated the building, since none of the articles mentioned him. However, it had his "fingerprints" all over it. Stagecoach was the name of his observatory and he had dabbled in film... I didn't know him well, but Dave "dabbled" in a lot and was very successful and creative with all of his projects. Offices for film producers is PERFECT for the building and what a wonderful gift he gave to Santa Fe. Thanks for you for helping to make this happen! Oh, and you are keeping the "cognition enhancer" sculpture, right? ;-)

Edited at 2017-03-22 01:15 am (UTC)
grrm
Mar. 22nd, 2017 04:24 am (UTC)
RE: Daylight and Dave
Yes, definitely. That was the only thing Dave asked of me; he loved that sculpture, and so do I.

The building is in lovely shape, for the most part. We are updating the fire alarm and smoke detectors and adding security cameras, but elsewise very little work was required.
Stephanie Schuer
Mar. 22nd, 2017 03:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you
Thank you for clearing this up. I was rather confused by the news and short from giving up my hopes for any kind of next book written by you. Looking forward to the next chapter of the Targaryen chronicles :)
dawnnlp
Mar. 23rd, 2017 12:09 pm (UTC)
clearing the air
So glad you cleared the air on this George. Thank you!
laviniagrace
Mar. 24th, 2017 02:06 am (UTC)
the stories out today are:
1) Inaccurate
2) Inaccurate with what you wrote above cut-and-pasted in
3) Saying you have created a war with journalists to detract from your having not finished 'the book' because apparently that is all you are supposed to be doing with your life, writing to appease.

It's amazing there was a time when people really couldn't contact authors with lightning speed or at all. Just know that I saw a lot of people defending you out there in cyberland. Possibly from this blog, or who saw this blog, because they were referencing things you said here. You have more supporters than detractors, it's just with the anonymity of the internet, things seep through.
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