Friday, September 19, 2008

wmcn made the mac weekly today and i confess i'm somewhat irked by the article. let me be clear: i don’t want to personally attack the article’s author, who seemed very nice when i met her. nor would i want to attack the publication as a whole, though i do have some strong opinions about the newspaper that today published a picture of the brian jonestown massacre above copy about a review of “burn after reading”.

my grudge—and i guess that’s what it is—stems from feeling quoted in a way that removes the essential context and uncertainty from what i told t.m.w. to wit:

•“Mendelson [that’s my last name] said the studio will cost “very little,” but does not have a set date for the project’s completion.”

this was taken from an email i wrote. in response to the question “How much is the recording studio going to cost?” i replied: “Very little, maybe nothing actually, but again Zach's the guy.” so the above quote is troublesome because it published the least important and most misleading part of my response—which was intended as an admission of ignorance yet was quoted as if i were speaking from a position of authority. what's more, i asked the reporter to contact our g.m., zach dotray, if she wanted to determine the probably-non existent price tag on the studio; he is, after all, “the guy.” i offered the journalist zach’s contact info so she could reach him, and while he’s quoted elsewhere, i wish zach’s response to the question would have been solicited and printed. additionally, while it’s true i don’t have “a set date for the project’s completion” t.m.w. never asked me about a completion date. if somebody close to the project indeed confirmed this, the sentence needed to be rephrased so as not to attribute the information to someone who never mentioned the issue. it's lazy journalism.

•also in the article: “WMCN managers say their time in the cramped basement offices is coming to an end. ‘WMCN will eventually move to the new arts building,’ Mendelson said.”

this came from my response to the question “What does the station see itself doing in the future?” incorrectly using a semicolon, i responded: “I think that this question is probably best handled by Zach; although I believe the plan is that WMCN will eventually move to the new arts building.”

leaving aside the issue of whether or not "mangers" said this, this bothers me for the same reasons: i professed ignorance and suggested zach would know more, but was then myself quoted as an authority. my bit about how i merely believe that this is the plan, and that it may not actually be the case, didn’t make the article. this worries me in particular, as my source on this is nothing more than my recollection of a 2006-7 wmcn staff meeting where this was mentioned.

•and zach, who spoke with a different reporter, was misquoted as well (from the article: "It's always hard to fill the 8:00 a.m. slots," Dotray said. "But we did it. We have 56 shows and 45 DJs."). wmcn hasn't yet filled the 8 a.m. slots, which zach knows, and those numbers were estimates he and tech director sean hickey came up with on the spot.

incidentally i'd gladly forward anyone my correspondence with t.m.w.—i swear i'm not making this up! to reiterate: i'm not attacking the author or even t.m.w., and i'm thrilled they wanted to report on wmcn. i'm biased, of course, but i'd like to see more wmcn articles throughout the semester--it is the largest student org on campus. i don’t even object to t.m.w. using the quotes they did or editing them; i understand that journalism requires editing quotes. what i did object to was the use of the quotes in a way that changes their meaning and gives them a certainty they never had nor were intended to have. i probably shouldn't have been quoted in these instances.

i know that the author's not getting paid to write these articles and that they can’t be the most fun thing to write, but this is some scott templeton-level journalism. i know that to talk with reporters is to open oneself up to the possibility that what's printed won't be what one wants to see published. but when the question is accuracy and quotes shorn of their proper context, things move beyond the issue of quotes being used and into the issue of them being misused. the mac weekly is better than that.

more importantly, and hopefully as a small gesture for anyone who made it through the rant, there’s nothing like an inspirational tune to cheer you up when you’re bummed out. i seriously believe that “moulty”, the artyfact from nuggets-era band the barbarians, might be the most inspirational song i've ever heard. if you don’t feel at least a little bit better about yourself and the world after listening to “moulty” make sure you heart’s still beating. it's that good:

[mp3] the barbarians—“moulty”

7 Comments:

Anonymous movie buff said...

Brad Pitt can be so funny, as long as he's not taking himself too seriously... in any case, it's about time someone made good use of his habitually spastic arm movements

4:21 PM  
Blogger Geoff said...

You know my thoughts. I'm gonna link that photo, because it says it all:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51C6zfrN56L._SS500_.jpg

6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wah wah, some first year journalist in the mac weekly didn't quote you, the self-appointed WMCN gods, exactly the way you wanted. Write a letter to the editor!

1:35 AM  
Blogger aaron said...

well wah wah, i guess where i disagree with your anonymous opinion is in that i thought the quotes were unfaithful to their original context and, because of this, inaccurate. i didn't write a letter to the editor because i felt the article was, on the whole, pretty benign and that i didn't want my hang-up to be too public an aspect of wmcn. also, i clearly have difficulties with my words being edited (though, again, i think they were justified in this case).

w/r/t wmcn having self-appointed gods--it's hard to know what to say. have you met any of these people you presume to be gods? i've been at wmcn 3 years and i only ever met 2 staff members (out of approx. 40) with unreasonably high opinions of themselves. in my experience most wmcn-ers are friendly, self-deprecating folk.

2:29 AM  
Blogger Geoff said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Geoff said...

I hope you're not referring to me. I hate myself.

So while I must disagree with the comments of anonymous, I must say that movie buff is right on the money.

11:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I question the good taste of Movie Buff to mention "spastic arm movements" while commenting on a post about Moulty. For shame!

7:02 PM  

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