Friday, March 26, 2004
1. BUSTED! THE SORDID STORY BEHIND OUR FABRICATED INTERVIEWS.
The heat is on. A year ago, when New York Times reporter Jayson Blair was fired for fabricating interviews, we at WN shrugged it off. It’s not like it was the first time a reporter made up a story. Washington Post reporter Janet Cooke got a Pulitzer Prize for interviewing people that didn’t exist. That was 14 years ago. More recently, Stephen Glass was caught fabricating stories for New Republic. We still didn’t take it seriously; nobody reads New Republic anyway. But USA Today is America’s most-read paper, and last week, star reporter Jack Kelly was outed for making news up. On top of that, a WN reader googled "veteran NASA astronaut Ann Thropojinic" (WN 12 Mar 04), and came up with zip. Are we about to be exposed? It’s time to come clean: WN has fabricated interviews for years. It gives us full control of a story, and it’s highly addictive. Having no experience at confession, WN turned to a professional, Mia Culpa, for help. "It’s best to be indirect," she mused, "perhaps you could reveal the truth in a whimsical interview with a fictitious expert." Thanks Mia.
2. HUBBLE REPAIR MISSION: "JOHN HENRY WAS A STEEL DRIVIN’ MAN."
NASA is buried under a blizzard of appeals by people from every walk to save Hubble. The four Hubble repair missions are often invoked as proof of the need for a human presence in space, but NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe left himself no room to back down from his decision to let Hubble die rather than risk a shuttle repair mission. There is a way out. Why not build a robot that could make the repairs? In principle, a machine can be made to perform any mechanical task. The implications go beyond the beloved telescope. In the end, the machine will always win. It would be an update of the legendary contest between John Henry and the Iron Monster. "And he died with a hammer in his hand."
3. FAKE NEWS: "IN WASHINGTON, I’M KAREN RYAN SIGNING OFF."
Eighteen journalism organization have signed a statement asking Health and Human Services to stop using video news releases that imitate television news stories. The Bush Administration had paid people to pose as journalists praising the new Medicare law.
4. ADVERTISING: "WE BRING CLARITY TO COMPEXITY," THE AD CLAIMED.
A full page ad for Assurant, Inc. in the New York Times had a colorful picture of a yo-yo, signifying I know not what. It explained it this way:
Gravity: Attractive force between bodies proportional to their masses and the distance between them.