December 12, 2014

"Charming guy charms reporter, later writes letter explaining he was trying to not be charming lest he be accused of trying to charm reporter."

A 1-sentence summary of the new episode of "Serial," which people seem to be getting tired of.

In a week that has resurfaced the Rolling Stone UVA story and condemnations of reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely who appeared to fudge her handling of sexual-assault allegations, [Sarah] Koenig shows us that she’s a journalist, first and foremost. A story can be sensational by nature, and can be a source of intrigue, but in the end, there are real costs. There are humans involved, with emotions and livelihoods and reputations. It's a journalist's frighteningly awesome job to collect these stories and tell them without bias, insofar as that’s possible. We're reminded that this sometimes means a story entails just plain, dry facts.


Paul Ciotti said...

There's nothing wrong with writing a story from the point of view of the main protagonist, as long as the writer then goes and seeks out the other principal characters and writes other sections of the story from their points of view as well.

It doesn't ruin a story to have the truth of the matter unresolved or contested by the views of other participants. It rather suggests something more subtle and satisfying--truth is elusive and invariably complex.

Sabrina Erdely's problem was that she was too ideological to appreciate subtlety. Her goal was to foment social change, not tell the truth as she saw it.

Todd said...

It's a journalist's frighteningly awesome job to collect these stories and tell them without bias, insofar as that’s possible. We're reminded that this sometimes means a story entails just plain, dry facts.

Sorry but the your job is to ALWAYS present the plain, dry facts.

I don't want your opinion in a news report. I want the facts, all of them so I can come up with my own opinion.

There are too many journalists these days and not enough reporters. Journalists tell "their" story and reporters tell "the" story and they do this by including all of the facts. Sadly, today schools turn out journalists instead of reporters.

Scott said...

Myth busted...

jacksonjay said...

Wake me when a "journalist" is hot on Lois Lerner's trail, searching for "plain, dry facts." Oh I forgot, Politico already got the facts from Lois.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Lerner said in her first press interview since the scandal broke 16 months ago. “I’m proud of my career and the job I did for this country.”

Read more:

Fen said...

Journalists are hacks and should be regarded as Winston Smiths, scum sucking propagandists that should be exterminated on sight. I stopped believing anything in the papers long ago after I saw so many botch and spin a topic I had direct experience with.

But the worst case was being interviewed at the FL recount protests in 2000. The reporter used all my quotes but represented them as coming from 5 different people, to give a false impression of consensus. You can just imagine what other stunts they pull to fool their readers.

If the walls ever come down, it will be open season on these weasels. Tar and feathers would be too gentle a punishment for the damage they have done.

jacksonjay said...

Did the Innocence Project Avengers go to the work on Sarah's project? We haven't heard anything else about their involvement.

I was shocked to hear the Virginia Law prof refer to a student as a "pro-government, right-wing, Republican operative." It did sound like a compliment.

I'm getting the feeling that Episode 12 will be an anti-climatic nothing burger. Or maybe Mr. S, The Streaker, did it.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Even in the most fact-based news reporting on NPR and some other stations (rare, I know), I've developed a reflex deafness to cover the last sentence, which is ALWAYS some marginally justified editorializing / narrative promotion. (They must have some kind of internal policy about personalizing their reporting. Or maybe it's just bias.)
I'm older now, and can't tolerate blood pressure spikes like I used to.

Michael K said...

This "reporter" seems to have a problem with serial lies. All her stories are now under review.

Steven Wilson said...

I wonder to what extent those who pass as journalists today is influenced by Capote's In Cold Blood which was billed as a non-fiction novel. Of course, it appear they have concentrated on the novel as opposed to the non-fiction part.

And then there is the so called legacy of Watergate, a legacy that seems more tainted as the actual circumstances leak out.

I personally think that we lost something when journalism became a profession rather than a destination in what had been an apprentice, journeyman, master career. Having people come up through the ranks as cub reporters, stringers, etc. had to have had a seasoning effect on those who were exposed to human frailty at all levels of society. I suspect the old time reporters were a great deal more cynical about everyone than today's journalists are.

Of course, the very change in label from reporter to journalist has had to have made them feel better about themselves, not a welcome development, as they set out to make the world a better place. A goal utterly at variance with their actual mission which would be to report the facts and let those who have been assigned the levers of power try to make the alterations based on good information rather than agenda driven fabrications.

mccullough said...

I'm worried about anyone who finds this guy charming.

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm worried about anyone who finds this guy charming."

I know. I've always assumed he did it, and I hear a coldness and deceptiveness in his voice.

Unknown said...

The link with IN COLD BLOOD is astute. Capote fell in love with Perry, and this passion works as the prime mover of his tale. He has little interest, or sympathy with, by contrast, the dead Clutters, now lying cold in their graves. (Capote is not too interested, or moved by, the girl who died -- though her death is heartbreaking in the filmed version of the book.) Perry, as damaged rough trade, answers most all of the questions the inner Truman cares to ask.

Often in crime fiction a detective will fall in love with a dead female victim, and this will energize things. Because (as Poe once said) nothing is more beautiful, or tragic, than a dead young female. Of COURSE this is morbid. But it often proves true. Epitomized perhaps in the Otto Preminger film LAURA. As well as in ANNABEL LEE.