I don’t write much about local media anymore because 1.) I have bigger fish to fry (seriously) and 2.) it’s podunky and boring. But this caught my eye and it was just too hilarious and sad for me not to vent about it:

Times Union Apologizes for Story About Ignoring Realtors’ Advice

In short: the Times Union published an article in an insert about people that ignored their realtors’ advice. Realtors in the area were REALLY ANGRY because people were like “realtors? Eh.” So the Times Union decided to call them all in, gave a very heartfelt and public apology, and did a full-page ad for a full week – for free – extolling the virtue of realtors.

This is so goddamn ridiculous and gross in a myriad of ways.

First you have the Realtors, who feigned being so angry and upset! At least, I hope they were faking it. Otherwise they’re way too thin-skinned for the industry they’re in. Or just plain fucking crazy, because if it only takes someone tweeting “eh, idunno about realtors” to get you that upset, you’re a goddamn headcase. I don’t care what you do. For Christ’s sake, I’ve had worse things written about me on their blogs and laughed it off. And can you imagine other people crying foul at a handful of readers saying they ignore them? Why, the whole of the local radio industry would be marching down Wolf Road carrying pitchforks and torches!

Then you have George Hearst III, who responded by apologizing profusely and throwing his own staff under the bus, saying the article (which was dumb but essentially harmless) was “one-sided.” So, yeah, the publisher and, subsequently, Times Union as a whole decide to pull back the curtain to show everyone how ferociously the suck at the teet of advertisers. Which, granted, has been the case for a long time, but there’s a lot to be said for acting like you’ve fucking been there before. At least put up something resembling a front of dignity, guys.

The article itself? Misguided. Not by its tone so much as the crowd-sourcing for content and quotes. That shit really, really needs to stop, and all this nonsense is a perfect example why. When you get that sloppy and lazy with your work, you deserve everything that comes to you as fall-out. This isn’t Kristi Gustafson Barlette’s fault, either. It’s a direction the Times Union has gone in and encouraged far too often. Just last week I was told I was “quoted” in a story, which was a shock to me because I didn’t give any interviews. Turns out they showed something I tweeted about the movement to get Tim Tebow to call the survivor of a car crash. Which is fine, because again, it’s fair game. But the fact that there was an article in the Times Union precipitated by me and another user’s tweets is pretty fucking sad.

Seriously, if I pitched an article to Spike where I said “hey, how about I tweet out ‘what’d you guys think of IMPACT this week’ and write up the responses I get,” I’d be very politely told that it’s a very dumb and lazy pitch. And we’re not news. It’s not an issue of ethics so much as it’s just boring.

What. A. Mess.

 
  • http://www.facebook.com/rogerowengreen Roger Green

    I HATE that content that is “created” by a bunch of tweets or FB posts. LAZY journalism – not even journalism. It’s not just the TU, of course.

  • Joe P.

    True, reportage on the Twitterverse is lazy and manufactured journalism — much like writing about polls (“the horserace”) or politicians’ “gotchas” all through the election season,rather than real reportage on issues and substance. It’s pervasive, unfortunately. I’m also irked by the notion that reporting must always be “balanced”. There was a study released recently by two researchers at the (conservative!) Heritage Foundation that showed that the quantity of untrue assertions during the last campaign were far from “balanced” — they were overwhelmingly Republican and by a substantial amount. (Yes, I said the Heritage Foundation. No joke.) Yet “fact-check” journalists always seems to feel the need to dig up a Democratic untruth for every Republican one in order to appear (to borrow a disreputable slogan) “fair and balanced.” It’s not true that “both sides” are equally culpable always — why do they feel obliged? It’s like, why doesn’t reportage on the topic of evolution simply report the science and not feel obliged to give voice to creationism? In this case, this was a lazy story on people’s skepticism of realtors — but why is there an obligation, real or implied, for “balance” in what is a “some people go their own way” story? When there are a legitimate two sides to a story, of course, it’s good journalism to report them. but isn’t it self-evident by the very existence of the realty industry that some people trust them? This story WAS “the other side” — a “duh” one, to be sure, but what balance does it require? (SCIENCE SAYS THE EARTH IS ROUND –OTHERS DISAGREE” being the imaginary headline…. some things just ARE and need no rebuttal.)