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Daily Archives: November 19, 2012

AnnArbor.com posted a feel-good story over the weekend about magician Kip Barry setting up shop in space previously used by the Obama campaign. He tells freelancer Angela Smith that Kip Barry’s Magic and Performing Arts Center will be “a place to inspire creativity, imagination and the arts” — “a wonderful community-based combination magic studio/ performing arts center complete with a concession including cookies, cupcakes and soft drinks.”

Barry in AnnArbor.com (left) and his mugshot.

That sounds really nice, but then AnnArbor.com commenters went to work and discovered that the magician (real name: Kristopher Paul Barry) has a lengthy criminal record, which includes telephone harassment, stalking, fraud, issuing a worthless check, and DUI. (He’s currently wanted for parole violation.)

So what does a news site do when “the rest of the story” is written in the comments section?

“I’ll admit this is not something I’ve experienced often,” says AnnArbor.com community news director Paula Gardner. In fact, “this is a unique situation in my career.” She decided not to remove the links to Barry’s criminal record.

The decision was made after consulting with Jen Eyer from MLive Media Group. We have no reason to believe they’re not accurate, plus there’s an active warrant (at least per the Collier County, Fla. Sheriff Dept website).

Second, we run these types of retail reports as a service to the community. We’ve learned that readers respond to stories about store openings, so [we] spend a fair amount of time reporting them. There’s usually not a lot of active investigation behind them, but we do routinely ask about previous stores, etc.

In this case, the writer had several questions and took several steps to verify accuracy, and that included internet searches. Kip Barry’s full legal name did not come up during that process. Had that happened and had we known this information ahead of time, I can’t say what our next step would have been.

My guess: The story would not have run.

* Mixed-use theater and magic shop to open in Ann Arbor (annarbor.com)
* Barry was last arrested in Clearwater, FL, on February 12, 2012 (whosarrested.com)

* Sacred Heart in San Jose needs more turkies (nbcbayarea.com)

UPDATE — Romenesko reader Patricia Witkin writes: “Your screenshot of ‘turkies’ reminded me of this recent flub, also from Bay Area TV (ABC 7)”:

After Pete Wells skewered Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar in the New York Times last week, I asked several restaurant critics what they thought of the review — “He didn’t just shoot a fish in a barrel, he swallowed the frosted-hair whale whole,” one wrote — and to recall their reviews that got readers talking and chefs angry.

Their responses:

JONATHAN GOLD, Los Angeles Times
I’ve written reviews that have closed restaurants, and I’ve written reviews that have cost me friends. In the 1980s, I occasionally wrote reviews of the school, later perfected by A.A. Gill in London, that confused nastiness with sport. (I used the word mucilagenous rather too often in those days.)

The review that excited the most comment, though, was probably a fairly innocuous piece on the Olive Garden I wrote a couple of years ago: I had invited my photographer to the restaurant as an April Fool’s prank – I was going to intercept her and take her to a steakhouse a few blocks away – but showed up a few minutes late. She had already started in on the breadsticks, and we ended up staying for the entire meal. I really, really wanted to like it, mostly because a positive review would have been contrarian in a delightful way, but the lunch was even worse than I had feared.

The piece was more a narrative than an actual review, a story of a practical joke gone awry, but the reaction was pretty much the same as the reaction to Pete’s piece, although on a smaller scale: nasty letters; accusations of elitism; faux-populist radio blasts; blog frenzy, etc. (No Letterman Top 10 list, though – I would have enjoyed that.) The piece is still one of the first things people bring up when they meet me for the first time. And the intimations of snobbery still strike me as odd – at the Weekly, I tended to write about street food and its cousins. Olive Garden may have been one one of the more expensive restaurants I covered that year.

As for Pete: Was it entertaining? Was it accurate? Was it entertaining? Did it get everybody talking? Pete did okay.

In sheer dollars, Fieri’s place was probably the biggest opening in NYC this season. Critics review things like Adam Sandler movies all the time; why should restaurant critics be limited to highbrow dining rooms? And Fieri won’t lose a single customer.

BILL DALEY, Chicago Tribune
I was never threatened covering the cops beat nor while reporting on a big Mafia trial, but I was threatened – twice – for writing negative reviews of two restaurants. Shows where the passion is, I guess.

CRAIG LABAN, Philadelphia Inquirer
Funny how this review in particular has become such a “moment” for all resto-critics to show off their most indelibly deep teeth marks. I’d only been discussing the Fieri review with readers via Twitter for a few minutes when requests came in to dust off several of what they called their favorite slams.

My colleague, Michael Klein, posted this item earlier today with links to three of my reviews, including a review of Old Original Bookbinder’s in ’97 that I believe really set a tone, and a high-standard, for what my tenure at the Inquirer was going to be about — that the big names were expected to deliver…

I would add to that my February review of Georges Perrier’s Le Bec Fin, which downgraded the 40-year-plus institution from 4 to 2 “Liberty bells” and, as it turned out, presaged the sad end of this great landmark. Coincidentally (completely, I think) Perrier finally decided to sell the restaurant one week later. Just a stylistic note — this review happens to have also been written as an open question to the owner: “Dear Georges Perrier: What the Bec has happened?!”

That said, the brilliance of the Fieri review, from a writer’s point of view, is how far Pete Wells took that empty chair question motif…. he went all the way, every question more hilarious than the next. And it was powerful reading, both in its humor and message of accountability (or lack thereof). I understand the backlash that Fieri might have been too easy a target for the NYT. But I disagree. True, no one expects a celebrity restaurant in Times Square to be any good. But Fieri is more than just a big name chef. He’s become a cultural icon whose influence on the American pop dialogue (let alone its dining scene) is enormous. People travel the country in his footsteps to eat what he preaches. And they circle back in droves every time his show comes on in reruns (which is often.) But does he practice what he preaches in his own restaurants? Certainly, he’s been held accountable there. Such an outsized personality demanded an outsized review. And Pete Wells didn’t just shoot a fish in a barrel, he swallowed the frosted-hair whale whole./THE CRITICS’ STORIES CONTINUE. Read More

* “For the first time in the history of the industry, a 20-something journalist could have an advantage over a 40-something candidate,” says National Sports Journalism Center director Malcolm Moran. (shermanreport.com)
* Tina Brown tells Michael Kinsley: “I don’t know whether you’ve been reading [Newsweek] — probably not – but it’s very good.” (nymag.com)
* In October, Slate topped 10 million uniques for the first time. (adage.com)
* Roger Ailes wants Megyn Kelly to stay at Fox News and become an even bigger star. (mediabistro.com)
* Prof who studies Internet interaction says “Facebook may have replaced Disneyland as the happiest place on Earth.” (nymag.com)
* Albany Times Union covers the Register-Star newsroom resignations and firing. (timesunion.com) | The journalists tell their stories: (jimromenesko.com)
* “60 Minutes” challenges Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on his selective editing claims. (jsonline.com)
* How Ben Huh’s Cheezburger operation made it to Bravo. (dailynorthwestern.com)
* Houston Chronicle says just-launched houstonchronicle.com “is a complement to Chron.com, not a replacement.” (chron.com)
* How did journalists get scooped on a D.A.’s porn past? (vivelohoy.com)
* Sirius XM to broadcast “Car Talk” during evening rush hours. (nytimes.com)