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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

You said you'd give me light, but you never told me about the fire

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: Stop the presses! Somebody else made a mistake!

You may not believe it, but Name of Paper Withheld is suddenly very concerned about journalists' factual errors.

Yes, you read that correctly, but I didn't give you all of the information you need to make an assessment of this development, so don't jump to conclusions just yet.

They are very concerned about OTHER journalists' factual errors. Not their own.

Yeah, you can breathe again: The world has not turned completely upside down.

You see, a journalist from another country visited Name of Town Withheld and filed a story to a British publication. Name of Paper Withheld reports triumphantly that that story included some mistakes. For example, most residents do NOT heat their homes with wood. What a bunch of idiots those overseas guys must be!

Yes, this is quite a scoop. Hold the front page. Oh, you were already planning to put it on the front page? Carry on, then.

I've been away for almost a week, but I'm pretty sure this is a new approach to factual errors. They are apparently worthy of a new story that ridicules the original mistake. I guess Name of Paper Withheld won't mind if I casually skim the latest issue of the paper for errors, then. Maybe I'll find a decorative ellipsis.

UPDATED NOVEMBER 21: I have written a new post that deals with some of the concerns described in this post's comments section.


Jackie S. Quire said...

Here I am, guilty as charged. I love ellipses, I like to dangle them off the ends of sentences...

I like to ... from time to time... put them in the middle of sentences...

... and sometimes, just for fun, I'll put one at the beginning too!

Oh wait. I write scripts for a living. Not newspaper copy. So it's not near as bad... right??


Jackie S. Quire: in constant need of validation from others since 1985.

Matt, Kara and Hunter said...

ummmm so I don't really care about errors, but how do I get to win $11 million. I could really go for that.

Anonymous said...

Actually, that story wasn't in News/North.


Megan said...

You are correct. It was in the local paper from the same parent company.

Anonymous said...

I like how you think that is the same. But I don't expect much from you. Any chance you have to sling mud this way you will, regardless of where it lands. Your bias is annoying.


A. said...

What's your deal with nit-picking about a minor mistake? You talk journalism, yet, you don't seem to ever discuss the issues of the day in the north.

If you have such problems with the paper and are so concerned about the quality of news, why not start writing for us instead of hiding behind your blog making thoughtless complaints and start making noise that requires some actual work.

You constantly state you are a 'former journalist'. Well if you are one you'd understand that mistakes happen. Journalists aren't perfect as much as we would like to be. If you can look past the missing ellipsis or spelling error, you'd find there is a lot more important things you should be concerned about.

I don't have time to read through your past blogs, I'm too busy trying to make errors in the paper but I'd like to know what the deal is with your Hasselhoff fetish...


Megan said...

This wasn't about the ellipsis. That much should be obvious.

I'll answer your Hasselhoff question in a separate post.

Torq said...

I'm dancing like a monkey!

Much the same as any form of media which is open to the public this blog is open to criticism. By the simple virtue of you using your ability to express yourself you open the door to others disagreeing with what you have expressed and the way which you have chosen to express yourself.

Look at it this way:

You don't like some of the things which Megan says about your Newspaper in her blog. You feel that her opinions are unfair and biased. On the other hand Megan doesn't like some of the things which you say in your newspaper. She feels that you don't do quite as good a job in editing and fact checking as you might.

She expresses her displeasure in this situation by blogging. You express your displeasure in this situation by commenting. You are both entitled to your opinions and in a sense you are both right. If you don't think that she should be writing blogs about your newspaper, than you certainly should not be making the same mistake in writing comments about her blog!

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with her expressing her opinion. However, I do think her focus is usually misplaced and ignorant of the way the paper operates.

In this case, she implies there really isn't a difference between News/North and Yellowknifer, which is wrong. Both papers have different editorial focuses, different supervisors and different audiences.

Yes, they are both under the same company umbrella. Congratulations for getting something right.

It looks pretty stupid on your part to state how the story was pointed to on the front page and feature a front page that doesn't have mention of the story.

Had you used the picture of the front page of the knifer with pointer on it, I wouldn't have said anything.

I guess you were just too lazy to find an old copy of the paper and grabbed the easiest front you could.

Like I said her bias is obvious here. If she wasn't just out to sling mud at Northern News Services as a whole she would have been a bit more fair and accurate in this latest inanity.


Torq said...

I wanted to make sure that you both were engaging on the same level. This ascertained, I have nothing more to add.

*Wanders off into the sunset, guns blazing*

bec in T.O. said...

Andrew has a good point about the front page image. I was expecting to see the "news" story you were referring to.

I also find it interesting that he doesn't have time to read your past blog posts, yet your blog is on his blogroll.

Just sayin'...

[does that count as a decorative ellipsis?]

Megan said...

Andrew has a great blog. I link to him every time he puts up a post.

A. said...

I don't mean to harp on you Meg, I enjoy reading your stuff, but sometimes I just feel frustrated that the work we do seems to go completely unnoticed and the important issues get washed away by a spelling mistake.


Megan said...

In that case, I'm sure you'll understand when I say that it's almost never really about the spelling mistake. It's about the important issue: in this case, about the tendency to point out competitors' errors while ignoring our own.

Every once in a while, a reader will ask me to tear you guys a new one over something really stupid, like a typo. I don't see that as being what I do here: that's just frustration from someone who actually is biased and does feel wronged. I write about journalism issues, and I illustrate them with real-life examples. The ellipsis is worth no more than the two words I gave it.

I understand your frustration. Journalists often feel that nobody knows how much work they put in, how much they care about their craft, and how much embarrassment they feel when they see errors in the final product. I understand ALL of that. There are biased people out there who hate your newspaper, but I'm not one of them.

I know I'm an easy target, though, because I'm clear about what I'm criticising and why. I'm pretty sure I'm using the same standards you do.

Your true critics really are biased, and they are not nearly as fair or as open as I am. But I understand that you don't have the same access to them that you have to me.

Geez, this is practically a blog post. We should have coffee now that you're back in town.

Anonymous said...


Your failure to correct, or even acknowledge the mistake you made, using the front of News/North to illustrate your latest point demonstrates you are not as interested in accuracy as you so often claim.

Using that image is akin to reporting a person's name for the actions of one of their siblings and then when it was pointed out by an angry reader saying, 'meh they are in the same family, close enough.'

All your rationalizations do not change the fact you are wrong. Not correcting it also makes you a hypocrite. You often bash us for making multiple errors. Well, despite all the failings we may - have in your eyes - we at least correct our errors in a timely fashion.

Apparently you find yourself above the same type of accountability.

You prop yourself up as some sort of last bastion of good journalism but it's all a sham if you are unable to recognize when you are wrong.

Oh well, go back to correcting grammar and spelling.


Megan said...

Chris, you really need to drop this. I'm not really interested in going through that issue of the Yellowknifer and pointing out all of the errors. I repeat: this was NOT about the ellipsis.

Since you're determined that I should say it directly, here goes:

News/North and Yellowknifer are NOT the same newspaper. I should never have said anything to suggest that they are the same. Although they share many of the same staff and infrastructure, they are not the same publication: they have different editors and audiences. (Think of CBC's national news and local news as a similar example.)

I was not using the image to illustrate the story from the Yellowknifer. That would be ridiculous. I was using it to illustrate a sloppy error. I didn't pick it because it was a huge error that deserved a separate post, but because it was a sloppy error on the front page. Perhaps I didn't make this clear enough.

Seriously, I do not care about the ellipsis. The ellipsis isn't the point. I could have picked any other example, and perhaps I should have.

Anonymous said...

I actually thought the elipsis thing was a joke and nothing I have said has at all had to do with the elipsis.

I don't have time to spend this many words on an elipsis.

The following with the front page you used is was what I took issue. I took further issue when you said it didn't matter cause it was the same.

"You see, a journalist from another country visited Name of Town Withheld and filed a story to a British publication. Name of Paper Withheld reports triumphantly that that story included some mistakes. For example, most residents do NOT heat their homes with wood. What a bunch of idiots those overseas guys must be!

Yes, this is quite a scoop. Hold the front page. Oh, you were already planning to put it on the front page? Carry on, then."

Hmmm, this might be like when you slam us for putting big headlines over photos and call it confusing and misrepresenting, even though we believe we have separated them well enough.


Megan said...

Hold on. In that case, I definitely owe you an apology for not dealing with your concern right away. I didn't understand what you were saying. But I'm pretty sure that that story actually WAS teased on the front page.

I'm sick today and my brain is not working as it ought to. "Teased" is not the right word, is it? I mean that there was a headline on the front page to lead readers to the story. I left my copy of the paper in Alberta, but I'm pretty sure it was on the bottom left corner of the front page.

Anonymous said...


Of the Yellowknifer. That is my point.

Anonymous said...

We call them pointers, teased is fine.

Chris, that was me above, too.

Anonymous said...

That story, as I said, was not in News/North, nor on the front page, since I am the one that puts everything into that paper (with a few rare exceptions) I should know.


Megan said...

Yes, you are correct, and I apologise for not dealing with your concern right away. I did not understand that you felt I was saying that the story I was writing about was in the territorial newspaper. Although I certainly did not intend to imply this, you felt this way and therefore I owe you an apology. I have also posted a clarification.

Thank you for bringing this to my attention.