Monday, April 23, 2012

How news stories get mangled

Scene in a Greenwich Village basement:
FBI Agent No. 1 looks at watch, sees it's half past noon.
FBI Agent No. 1 to FBI Agent No. 2: Have you eaten?
FBI Agent No. 2: Yes.
Lurking New York Post reporter, whips out cell phone, makes call: BOSS, they found Etan's remains!!!
New York Post: EXCLUSIVE: Etan Found!!!


  1. WTF are you talking about? This makes no sense at all.

  2. Perhaps some explication is in order (besides the fact that the headline should have said "news stories," rather than "new stories."). The story of the day, or the week, in the New York, and to a lesser extent, the national media was the search for the remains of Etan (pronounced e-Ton) Patz (pronounced Pates). A good journalist eavesdrops; a bad journalist wiretaps (got that, Mr. Murdoch?), which has even less to do with the price of tea in China than the whereabouts of blind dissident Chen Guangcheng. Now, picture this: The FBI is tearing up a basement looking for the remains of little Etan, who disappeared three decades ago, under some concrete that was freshly poured about the time young Etan disappeared. A journalist who works for, let's say, Fox News, is lingering near a couple of FBI agents with shovels, it's almost lunchtime, and one FBI agent says to the other, "Have you eaten?" The alleged journalist interprets what he just heard to mean "Do you have Etan?" and when the other FBI agent replies in the affirmative, immediately calls his supervisor, maybe even Rupert himself, with his scoop. I hope I have sufficiently explained What the Fiddle Faddle I was talking about. And next time, use proper English: "WTFF are you talking about?"