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Daily Archives: April 20, 2012

“Why do I feel that chicagotribune.com’s placement of a Doritos Locos Tacos ad alongside its story about “Pot Day” isn’t merely a coincidence?”

— CBSChicago.com sports blogger Dave Wischnowsky, writing on Facebook

For its 100th anniversary, Motorcyclist magazine reprinted a story from its May 1918 issue, headlined “Harley-Davidson Adds Factory To Increase Output.”

Some sites on Thursday reported the motorcycle firm’s expansion without realizing it was a 94-year-old event, and the old news quickly spread on social media.

RushLane's erroneous report

“Trade publications as far away as India picked up the story,” reports Rick Barrett, but “didn’t get the back-in-time angle.” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter continues:

Harley-Davidson says it appreciated the historical value of the article but said that Motorcyclist Magazine should have been more clear it was from 1918 – only 15 years after Harley was founded.

“They could have identified it better with the dateline,” which said April 13, said Harley-Davidson spokeswoman Maripat Blankenheim.

RushLane — an India-based site for vehicle enthusiasts — ran the incorrect item shown here, then updated its story after realizing the information was nearly a century old. “We do not in anyway wish to misrepresent facts, and as is obvious, there is no new factory,” RushLane said. “We are apologetic for any and all confusion caused in the online media, and take full responsibility for the all important date omission.”

* 94-year-old magazine article produces online buzz about new Harley factory
* Rushlane.com: “We are apologetic for any and all confusion”

The University of Portland has told the Beacon staff to pack up and move to the yearbook office, which is about one-third the size of the student paper’s newsroom, so that Campus Ministry staffers can set up shop.

The Beacon, which has been in its space for 30 years, blasted the move in an editorial:

Though Campus Ministry plays an important role on campus, what they are doing is wrong.

This forced move will greatly affect the ability of student media to do its job. It also shows a lack of respect for students. We are not just an extracurricular activity. We provide a necessary and integral service to the University: We are the voice of students. Anything that hurts the ability of student media to be a student voice also hurts the entire student population.

The newspaper’s opinion editor, senior Caitlin Yilek, tells Oregonian columnist Steve Duin: “To have the administration give you the middle finger is a frustrating way to leave the university.”

* University of Portland journalism takes a hit (Oregonian)
* Campus Ministry forces student media out (The Beacon)
* University’s edict called inelegant, cowardly and weird (College Media Matters)
* “The decision to make this move was not taken lightly” (The Beacon)

Education reporter Mary Niederberger wrote the story in Thursday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about 7-year-old Annie Clark — born without hands — winning a Zaner-Bloser national penmanship award.

“Read the comments on it,” a colleague advised Niederberger when she got to work yesterday afternoon.

“I was afraid — I don’t know why — but someone will always find something negative to say. But with this story, no one has. Everyone has been so inspired.”

Clark family photo

Niederberger says she put the wrong day on her photo assignment and ended up waiting — with first-grader Annie and her family — for the photographer to arrive. That turned out to be a blessing.

“I didn’t realize how good the story was until I met the parents and her siblings” and talked while waiting for the photographer. “It’s pretty incredible all around.” (Annie’s father told Niederberger: “She can ride a bike. She swims. She is just determined that there’s nothing she can’t do.”)

Niederberger reports:

Devout Christians, the Clarks started to adopt disabled Chinese children. In addition to Annie, the Clarks adopted sons Travis and Talbot, 10, and Tyler, 18, all of whom are missing parts of their right forearm. They also have two other adopted daughters, Alyssa, 18, who also has Down syndrome, and Amelia, 4, who has an undiagnosed lesion on her leg.

The Clarks said while others might consider their family a burden, they consider their children to be blessings.

* First grader without hands wins award for handwriting
* Fifth grader overcomes visual impairments to win penmanship contest

A Brattleboro Reformer reader asks: “Where are the comics ? There are 2 page 14s, both the same. Hey, someone wake up and smell the flowers. We all need a laugh a day.”

The paper posted this message this morning:


“One of the best op-ed pieces ever?” Stanford prof and NPR “Math Guy” Keith Devlin asked after reading Rex Huppke’s Facts, 360 B.C. – A.D. 2012.

“‘Tis,” responded one of his followers.

The Chicago Tribune piece went viral late Thursday, and Huppke’s emailbox quickly filled with reactions to it — “the vast majority from people who got the joke and seemed to concur with the point I was trying to make.”

Huppke tells Romenesko readers how his obit came together:

I had the idea for the obit last week when I read about Rep. Allen West’s claim that 80 or so House Democrats are communists. The manner in which so many on the left and the right are playing so fast and loose with the facts these days is a subject I’d been thinking a lot about anyway. So this seemingly random statement – based in no fact whatsoever – struck me as the death blow to facts having any meaning in our political discourse.

Rex Huppke

I’m lucky to have an editor – Mark Jacob – who’s open to odd ideas, and he liked this one right away. So I ran with it. After poking around a little online I found Mary Poovey, an NYU professor who has written a book about the history of facts and is currently writing about the death of facts. She provided the biographical details necessary for the obituary, and also lent some interesting insight on the broader subject.

Next I spoke with Gary Alan Fine, a psychologist at Northwestern University. He wasn’t so convinced that facts are dead, thus giving a nice counterpoint to the piece. I framed his, in a sense, as so shocked by the death of facts that he was unwilling to accept it.

I told Poovey and Fine that what I was writing was going to be in obituary form and would be satirical, with the hope of making a broader point.

Based on the response, it seems to have worked. I’ve gotten about 50 e-mails (at last count), the vast majority from people who got the joke and seemed to concur with the point I was trying to make. The column also went a bit viral online, and that usually makes me believe I managed to hit a nerve.

Most of the angry/ideologically opinionated responses came via the comments section on the online version. Given the purpose of the column, many of the comments seem to blend in with the satire!

* Facts, 360 B.C. – A.D. 2012
* “If you’ve already read it, read it again. And weep.”

In early January, USA Today reporter Tom Vanden Brook started asking questions about the U.S. military’s “information operations” program, which has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on poorly tracked marketing and propaganda campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Vanden Brook

A short time later somebody created websites TomVandenBrook.com and RayLocker.com — Locker is Vanden Brook’s editor — to harass the journalists. The sites were taken down after the Pentagon began investigating. Also, USA Today reports:

Fake Twitter and Facebook accounts have been created in their names, along with a Wikipedia entry and dozens of message board postings and blog comments.

“I find it creepy and cowardly that somebody would hide behind my name and presumably make up other names in an attempt to undermine my credibility,” Vanden Brook tells his paper.

Locker tells Erik Wemple that this campaign is “something I’ve never experienced in 30 years” as a journalist in this business. He calls the intimidation attempt “a little bit of a distraction,” but “I think it’s good that we called attention to it” in today’s paper.

Meanwhile, Vanden Brook is still on the story. “If they thought it would deter me from writing about this, they’re wrong.”

* Misinformation campaign targets USA Today reporter, editor (USA Today)
* USA Today alleges harassment scheme (Washington Post)