Thursday, July 06, 2017

Discussion of Barnicle's false tweet of the death of Pete Frates

A post titled Reimer: After Pete Frates flub, it's time for a retelling of Mike Barnicle's big plagiarism scandal discusses the recent matter of Mike Barnicle's erroneous tweet that Pete Frates was dead, and then goes into Barnicle's earlier plagiarism/fake reporting issue.

Of the Frates matter, one notes that various news organizations relied only on a tweet to publish news stories:

The news of his death was reported by The Sun, The Mirror, Fox8 in North Carolina and several members of the sporting press. Outlets were citing journalist Mike Barnicle who had tweeted around 8 a.m. that a family friend informed him Frates was dead.

[from, which also noted:

Barnicle was a columnist for the Boston Globe from 1975 to 1998 when he resigned amid a controversy over two columns -- one a humorous column that had lines similar to those in a book by George Carlin and another column about a child dying of cancer that the Globe was not able to verify.

Barnicle is now a senior contributor on MSNBC's Morning Joe.


*From within USA Today [Disgrace, dishonor, infamy: They're not so bad anymore, page 1D, May 22, 2003]

* Mike Barnicle, a longtime columnist for The Boston Globe, was forced to resign in 1998 after being accused of plagiarism and making stuff up. Today he's a columnist for the New York Daily News, constantly appears on television as a pundit and frequently fills in for Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball.

*From a comment in the Globe and Mail [What we've got here is a failure of originality, page A21,
September 28, 2012 ]:

Before the Internet, newsrooms were lucky enough to stumble into a method for growing writers. It wasn't perfect and there certainly were scandals, such as when The Washington Post's Janet Cooke fabricated a character in a story that went on to win the Pulitzer, or when Boston Globe columnist Mike Barnicle stole material from comedian George Carlin. But those were few and far between.

These days, it feels like hardly a week goes by without a professional journalist being exposed for plagiarism, fabrication or patchwriting, which is a failed attempt at paraphrasing that over-relies on the original writer's syntax and vocabulary. That last transgression is likely today's most common sin, according to Rebecca Moore Howard, the Syracuse University professor of writing and rhetoric who coined the term.

Originality is elusive today in every place that people write - not just in journalism, but in academia, professional writing, book publishing, speech writing and politics.

In our panic to keep up with a changing world, we've failed to identify new methods for originality. We need to look to the writer-editor relationship, to the community of writers and thinkers and to the very process that writers use to go from nothing to something.

We're mystified by the prospect of building a culture that breeds original thinking and writing in today's digital world. Yet, we can look to writers who are successfully hitting the mark of originality and imitate their methods.
Today's most original successful writers often combine new and old to foster their thinking. Writers such as Anne Lamott or columnist Connie Schultz test out their ideas in social media settings such as Twitter or Facebook. They stay grounded in the real world, allowing for the influence of other people and experiences.

[Of the Globe & Mail, note a post at Huffington Post on 4 July 2017 titled Romeo Saganash Apologizes For Plagiarism In Globe And Mail Column: NDP indigenous affairs critic Romeo Saganash apologized Tuesday [July 4, 2017] for having plagiarized portions of a recent newspaper column about Canada's 150th anniversary.

The column appeared in the Canada Day edition of the Globe and Mail under the headline, "150 years of cultural genocide: Today, like all days, is an insult."

In a statement, Saganash said he takes complete ownership for the omission.

"In drafting my letter on my thoughts on Canada 150, a mistake was made by which ideas that were expressed by someone else were not given proper credit," Saganash said. "I take full responsibility for this omission."]

***Of misreported deaths, one recalls the Jim Brady saga. As discussed in the Smithsonian:

Dan Rather, in his first major event as anchor for CBS News, noted on air that the Secretary of State was fifth in line to succession (after the Speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate), not third. Some might look at Haig’s delivery “somewhat patronizingly,” said Rather, but “anyone could be forgiven today in the chaos of the moment.”

Shortly thereafter, at 5:10 p.m., Rather told the nation that James Brady had died. A White House spokesman responded quickly, saying the report was false.

“There is some confusion,” said Rather. Brady would be partially paralyzed from the shot to his head for the rest of his life.

By the end of the evening, the public learned that Hinckley was in custody and had acted alone. It learned that a bullet had pierced the president’s left lung, that it had been removed, and that he was already joking with the doctors and his wife. It learned that Brady, while alive, remained in critical condition.

The next day, the print press indicted broadcast journalism for misleading the American people. “Whether or not the surplus of misinformation doled out yesterday is an inevitable byproduct of an information-addicted, ready-access environment remains to be discussed in future days and weeks,” wrote Tom Shales in The Washington Post. “The news organizations of the three major networks are staffed and organized so that no effective system exists during coverage of a crisis of global sport to screen out rumor, gossip, hysterical tale-telling, hearsay and tongue-wagging.”


Also, from the Washington Post:

The camera zoomed in for a close-up of the presidential press secretary, James S. Brady, as he lay stricken and bleeding on the sidewalk and then, at 5:13, viewers heard Dan Rather of CBS News say, "It is now confirmed that Jim Brady has died."

Thirteen minutes later a White House spokesman on the air live said the report of Brady's death was "untrue." Rather said, "There is some confusion." Later, Chris Wallace of NBC News reported on the air that the president was undergoing "open-heart surgery," apparently untrue; a White House adviser had to deny that report after Wallace repeated it. Again, as in past crisis, the viewer was becoming privy to the newsgathering process.



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