Sloppy, Stupid Journalism is the New Black

Sloppy, Stupid Journalism is the New Black

by Don Hall

There are a host of positives when it comes to the expansion of citizen journalism. A truly democratic collection of voices and opinions, voices previously unheard from now present, the ability to publish articles that a major house wouldn’t. On the other hand, there is the new tendency of lesser known publications to publish click bait shit and fudge facts in favor of hyperbole and impact.

A recent example popped up in my RSS feed this weekend:

This white girl got dragged for her racist ‘The Little Mermaid’ tweet
by Nahila Bonfiglio
The Daily Dot

A new version of The Little Mermaid is headed our way, and some people are not thrilled with the casting.

The announcement that Halle Bailey, half of the R&B duo Chloe x Halle, would be portraying Ariel was met with mixed reactions. Many people greeted the news with euphoric joy, but, of course, the news was also greeted with its fair share of angry reactions. One angry comment, in particular, took a uniquely tone-deaf approach and was promptly dragged by half of Twitter.

Nothing screams RELEVANT and HERE’S SOME GOSSIP more than a stupid white person tweeting an opinion seen as hopelessly racist and then being ‘dragged’ for it. It also immediately draws attention to the target so they can get a bit more of a thorough helping of personal destruction. It’s quite horrifying and glorious.

The issue is the use of bad statistics to make the point. This is the heart of the argument about fake news the Stain in Chief drones on and on about.

According to the article, 

“Almost immediately, the tweet was soundly ratioed, with a collective 8,700 likes and retweets and a whopping 19,000 replies.”

Even if one was to assume that this collective of likes, retweets, and comments all constituted a ‘dragging,’ 28,000 tweets and comments make up for about 0.0075% of Twitter. Half? 50% of Twitter? Are you fucking kidding me? It’s not even one percent of Twitter.

Granted, Nahila Bonfiglio  is a culture reporter with other articles like:

Stranger Things 3: The Game is the video game companion to season 3
Cardi B wants you to ask your favorite 2020 Dem a question on Instagram
Lauren Love banned from Walmart after pretending to fire employees in YouTube prank

Her bio states she “reports on geek culture and gaming. Her work has also appeared on KUT's Texas Standard (Austin), KPAC-FM (San Antonio), and the Daily Texan.”

So, given the lighter nature of her beat, perhaps we give her a pass, right? Wrong.

We are living at a time when the very nature of words matters more than ever. Ambiguous language choices are labeled ‘hate speech.’ Certain words in the language are heavily discouraged from use because of their triggering effects. The President has declared war on the Fourth Estate for fake news and even that label has mushy and ever-expanding meanings.

Certainly, the story that ‘this white girl got dragged for her racist ‘Little Mermaid” tweet’ isn’t quite the story if Bonfiglio adds the truth: One angry comment, in particular, took a uniquely tone-deaf approach and was promptly dragged by less than one percent of Twitter. All of sudden the collective shrug of “So fucking what?” is the reaction. So why publish the story in first place if less than one percent even give enough of a shit to ‘drag’ her? It’s either sloppy journalism or journalism with an agenda and both suck. The first is lazy, the second confirms exactly what the Serial Sexual Assaulter in the White House spews nearly daily.

I watched All the President’s Men recently and the thing that struck was that these two young, hungry reporters could not get their articles published until their facts were unimpeachable. Woodward and Bernstein absolutely had an agenda in play but Ben Bradley held the line that it didn’t get put out for people to read unless it was right. At no point, would these two be allowed to print “With the break-in at the Watergate Hotel, the burglars bugged half of the DNC.” because that number isn’t even close to the truth.

For the sake of all that is holy, the sake of our democracy, don’t be the journalistic equivalent of Jussie Smollett, making shit up that supports an already rabid conspiracy in order to get attention. Get the facts right or stick to Op Ed pieces about Cardi B.

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