Friday, December 11, 2009

An attribution issue in Crane/Warren/Woods matter

Of the alleged criticism of Tiger Woods by two pro golfers reported in Life & Style, yahoo.sports notes

Provocative stuff, PGA players criticizing the Tour's greatest draw. There's just one problem: it now appears that it didn't happen, at least not the way Life & Style said it did.


Crane has strongly denied making the comments to Life & Style, saying that it would have been impossible for him to do so.
"Ben was very surprised and shocked to see these comments," Crane's agent, Tommy Limbaugh, said in an interview with Yahoo! Sports. "He never talked to anyone at Life & Style. He's done no interviews since the Children's Miracle Network at Disney Nov. 15. Ben wishes only the best for Tiger and Elin."
Warren's manager, Thomas Parker, echoed Crane's sentiments. "He's never spoken to this magazine," Parker said. "There's no story here."
"We sent an experienced freelance reporter to a golf tournament attended by several PGA pros," the magazine said in a statement. "Our reporter spoke with two golfers who presented themselves as Ben Crane and Charles Warren. We are taking these claims very seriously and investigating further." Yahoo! Sports has made inquiries to Life & Style magazine, but calls and emails to two individuals at the magazine have not as yet been returned.
The article has been pulled from Life & Style's main page, though at the moment it is still visible via direct link.
Limbaugh told the AP a magazine official indicated that the interview was conducted at the PGA Tour's Q School last week at Bear Lakes Country Club in West Palm Beach, Fla. However, Crane ended this season ranked 51st on the money list, and thus would have had no need to qualify for the PGA Tour through Q School. Warren was, however, listed in the field at the tournament.

An AP story notes: "This is unbelievable," Ben Crane told The Associated Press from his Dallas-area home. "I never said a word about anything. They print this and put my name next to it."

Major science journals, such as Nature, use free lance journalists. There can be an issue of credibility of the work product, which, as the Woods/Crane/Warren issue illustrates, may not be vetted by the journal.

In passing, LBE strongly criticized, on a factual basis, an article on patent reform by Eli Kintisch which appeared in the journal Science, and published his comments in the journal JPTOS. [JPTOS, pp. 743-746 (Sept. 2006) ]

See also

** followed up

More significantly, the Life & Style story about two professional golfers calling out Woods turned out to be an utter falsehood; we had decided to mention it here because there was on-the-record attribution, not "unnamed sources." Surely, we figured, no magazine would be foolish enough to print actual names without verifying. Wrong. Lesson learned -- and that's an aspect of this story that deserves further scrutiny.

In passing, as to the golf matter, Ryan Ballengee at waggleroom asked:

I want to know who the experienced freelancer is. Are they a golf reporter? Could they pick Ben Crane or Charles Warren out of a lineup? Did they do any kind of back checking to see that whoever said these things was actually the person they claimed to be? Or did they just make this whole thing up and hope that we would believe them at face value (some of us, myself included, did)?

IPBiz notes that Science relied on Eli Kintisch, who knows approximately nothing about patent law, and apparently believed that its readers would accept Kintisch's article at face value. Sometimes it does work. Recall, it's not news, it's fark, or is it punk?


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