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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Getting It Right in the Media

Almost everyone I know has said, when they've been in the newspaper, some detail is just wrong. To the degree I can, I try to correct things I read that are factually wrong, on the theory that the misinformation will be repeated. A newspaper columnist, about five years ago, suggested that the term "dramedy" came into being with Ally McBeal, circa 1997. I showed him several articles that proved that the term was in use at least a decade earlier in reference to shows such as Frank's Place, Hooperman, and The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd. Yet he never corrected it in his column, then made the SAME mistake, probably quoting himself, a couple years later. Of course, I corrected him yet again, he acknowledged it yet again, but did not print a correction.

When I was visiting my in-laws on Labor Day weekend, I saw a story about Bob Dylan playing in Cooperstown. The sentence that jumped out at me was this: "With virtuosity that showed her classical and jazz roots, this fiddler who changed her name from Elana Fremerman to James last year showed why she is the first woman star ever to tour with Dylan." First woman star ever to tour with Dylan? Where did THAT come from? I found a couple articles indicating that Elena James was the first woman instrumentalist to play with Dylan in 30 years, but that Joan Baez had "starred" with Dylan. I received this reply: "Thank you for the information about women instrumentalists who have toured with Bob Dylan. The newspaper will correct its original story." I assume they did, but the ONLINE story remains unchanged. Sigh.

Conversely, a nice story about some folks who keep score at the Oneonta Tigers games, including this guy Walt, who I've seen at the games, and my father-in-law, from that same week as the Dylan story, is not in the archives at all. Sigh again.

My friend ASP (that's her acronym, not a reference to her character) sent me a link about Beatles Album Covers Made Into Stamps. Here's the entire AP piece:

LONDON (AP) - The Royal Mail is saluting the Beatles in January by releasing six commemorative stamps illustrated with memorable album covers.

The set includes ran image of "With the Beatles," released in 1963, which was the group's second album. In the United States, it was the first Beatles album to be released and was titled "Meet the Beatles."

Others in the series include "Help!" (1965), "Revolver" (1966), "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (1967), "Abbey Road" (1969) and "Let It Be" (1970).

There are two factual errors in the middle paragraph. "Meet the Beatles" was NOT the first Beatles album released in the United States, "Introducing the Beatles", on Vee-Jay Records was. "Meet the Beatles" was the first Capitol Records album, and it was the album that helped propel them to stardom in the U.S.
Also, the tracks on "Meet the Beatles" are NOT the same as "With the Beatles". While they share the same cover photo, and nine songs, "Meet the Beatles" contains the single "I Want to Hold Your Hand", its U.S. B-side "This Boy" and its U.K. B-side, "I Saw Her Standing There", also found on the British album "Please Please Me"; none are on "With the Beatles". Conversely, "With the Beatles" contains five non-Lennon/McCartney songs that end up appearing on "The Beatles' Second Album" in the U.S.

I wrote that info to them, but then I discovered I had to register, and was too lazy to pursue it further, except that the local paper, the Times Union, picked up the story verbatim; I let them know about the errors.

Some stories you wonder about in terms of tone. The local story, Spirited couple set sights on church revival, had a picture so poor, especially as printed in the paper, that I didn't recognize that this story was about MY CHURCH and our new co-pastors. Moreover, the headline, more than the story itself, suggests that the church has been in a sorry state; or maybe, that's just my inference. Since that was just a matter of tone, and I actually liked the article, I made no comment.

Now, here's some information that my colleagues who have visited China swear is true, and they had the hangovers to prove it.

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