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Sunday, June 01, 2008

A Must Read Blog......Making the News? Or Making Up the News?  

I was really impressed with this blog. It is something that I wanted to do but I am sure I could not have worded it as great as this person did. I have had my rant in an earlier blog and did not want to dive into another one.

This person did the research and even did screen shots. I did not bring them over but there is a link in the quote.

The subject matter of this blog is the poor media reports that have been published as the truth. So many have been twisted and slanted for sensationalization. The truth would not sell papers or get the hits on the net. Short cuts are taken which is very sad. So many times I think the reporter does not hear what they want but writes what they wish was said.


Making the News? Or Making Up the News?

I've wanted to write for quite a while about the state of the media. It's getting so much so that I'm super sceptical of what I read in the newspaper these days. I get the sense that the media couldn't care less about making sure that they publish REAL news.

They seem to be basing their editorial decisions on how many eyeballs a particular story will attract. The result? Sensational tales are widely reported, whether they're true or not. After all, the resulting increased hits/viewership improve their profits. And there are very few to no negatives for them -- if the story turns out to be untrue, just issue a retraction or a small correction somewhere.

A story broke yesterday, May 29th, which illustrates just this point -- the "News" of Clay Aiken becoming a father soon; and the mother of the baby being Jaymes Foster, the Executive Producer of his just-released CD.

Just want to get this straight: my main point here is not to prove or disprove the story. I am far more concerned about HOW FAR AND FAST UNVERIFIED (or poorly verified) STORIES GET DISSEMINATED THROUGH THE MEDIA. And how the result is that we can no longer rely on even mainstream media to give us the news.

CASE STUDY: The Clay/Jaymes baby story

The Clay/Jaymes baby story evolved in a way quite a few celebrity stories do nowadays.

The so-called "News" was first published by a celebrity gossip site.

People.com then fanned the flames by adding that they themselves have spoken to a rep for David Foster, who they said "confirmed" the story (Seems the person later said he was misquoted, according to another site). Within a very short time, this People article spawned a host of reports in mainstream media (print, web AND television) -- all reporting that People.com confirmed the story.

Can you see the problem here? A story which remains unverified by the people involved, ie Clay and Jaymes, is making the rounds as if it were fact.(And, actually, later in the day a Canadian publication reported that David Foster's ex-wife stated that the story is not true).

The sections below tell the evolution of the story in more detail.
It all begins with... a gossip site posting a bit of, yes, you guessed it, gossip!

TMZ.com story dated May 29, 2008

TMZ.com, a gossip website, cites unnamed 'multiple sources' in their story of Jaymes Foster having a baby, and the father being Clay Aiken.

Excerpts from the TMZ.com story:

Multiple sources tell us the mother is Jaymes Foster, a record producer and Clay's best friend.

We're told Foster was artificially inseminated. ... we're told he [referring to Clay] will have an active role in raising the child.

Then PEOPLE.com got in on the action

PEOPLE.com story dated May 29, 2008

PEOPLE.com took the
TMZ story and ran with it. They proudly claim in their own story:

Clay Aiken is going to be a father, PEOPLE has confirmed.

According to them, a rep for David Foster confirmed it:

"The story is true," a rep for David Foster, told PEOPLE Wednesday, of theTMZ.com report that Aiken, 29, impregnated David's sister, music producer Jaymes Foster. "It is true Clay is the father. She was artificially inseminated by Clay. She's due in August."

Enter the Spoiler X17ONLINE.com casts doubt

X17ONLINE.com story dated May 29, 2008

X17ONLINE.com then joined the fray, claiming that they contacted the source named by "another website", and that person said he neither confirmed nor denied the story, and that he was misquoted. The most damning part of the whole episode
The mushrooming of the gossip to the mainstream audience

Picture: Google Search page captured on the evening of May 19th (US time) showing the proliferation of media stories.

Many news outlets, some of them extremely well-known ones, just repeated the PEOPLE.com story without, it seems, any attempt at trying to verify the information with either Clay Aiken or Jaymes Foster.

They just prefaced their own report with the comment that People.com confirmed the story.
Next Twist in the Tale Canadian media adds to the whole soap opera...

The Province (Canada) story dated May 29th, 2008.

The Province (Canada) reports on their site that B.J. Cook, David Foster's ex-wife, has said that the story is not true:

Celebrity gossip website TMZ reported yesterday that Victoria resident Jaymes Foster is due in August with the former American Idol star's baby. But Foster's former sister-in-law says the rumour is "ridiculous."

"Jaymes is definitely pregnant, that much is true," said B.J. Cook, the ex-wife of David Foster. "I can guarantee that it's not Clay Aiken's baby."


The IRONY of it...
Today (Singapore), May 29th, 2008. Interview with Clay related to the release of his new CD, On My Way Here.

In an interview published in a Singapore newspaper (Today, May 29, 2008) just a few hours before the TMZ story was posted, Clay was quoted as saying this:

"That's what's so great about America," he said, laughing. "One of our valuable amendments to the Constitution - freedom of the press - is also one of the crappiest. You can write anything you want. You don't need to have any proof or any truth to what you write."


What WE Can do
* Don't visit gossip sites. It still amazes me how some sites can make lots of money by publishing made-up stories masquerading as scoops.

* Read and watch the more thoughtful, well-researched items, and provide feedback to your local media about them.


Although it's not really important to my point, I thought that it's only fitting that if Clay Aiken or Jaymes Foster ever issues a statement, that I should mention it here.
This is the holding space for that.

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6 comments: to “ A Must Read Blog......Making the News? Or Making Up the News?

  • kielbasa


    Thanks, jbc, for bringing that blog to light. People need to read it.

    "Journalistic integrity" has become the new oxymoron.

  • Anonymous


    thanks jbc - this information needs to get out there. I think that the *ahem* news community needs to be taken to task on this type of reporting. True or not, it's reprehensible.


    I read this earlier and really liked the way the blog shows the progression with what changes and what doesn't and what gets passed on as though it's true. It's amazing how copy and paste journalism has become. Doesn't anyone do research anymore and doesn't anyone have the guts to turn down a story?

    It was really nice of you to bring this over so more people can see it. Kudos to the author of the original study.

  • Anonymous


    Another excellent case study would be the NJ Choir kids in the Christmas tour. That came from "Gawker" for cripe sake! and was used as a legitemate story in Newsweek. Talk about you junk sources.


    Thanks jbc
    something has to be done -
    very enlightening


    I remember that NJ concert story and I remember seeing the truth reported. The teacher claimed that the kids hadn't been fed and it was somehow Clay's fault. Truth was that the kids had a noon gig and the Chaperones were so anxious to get a glimpse of Clay that they didn't stop on the way back to feed the kids. Clay found out and sent his crew to every McDonalds in close proximity to get the kids something quick so they wouldn't faint. The venue's custom was to feed the cast and crews after the concert.

    The teacher claimed that Clay stiffed the choir on the donation and only gave an empty token envelope to the director on stage. Truth: A relative fan said the director had already received the donation but that the gifting on stage IS a token presentation.

    The teacher claimed Clay had his security remove her from the venue for complaining but it was venue security removing her for stalking him down the hall ranting.

    The story was elaborated on at Gawker by another teacher friend who got her ass suspended.

    This is what I remember from a long time ago so some things may be jumbled in my memory and others could tell it better. Point is that some people use their voice just to hear themselves say nothing worth hearing.