Saturday, July 26, 2014

Grumpy Cat remembers the Maine

Q: What do you do when a potentially GREAT story from the intarwebs has, you know, a few too many hedges?
A: Make up some more stuff!

Which appears to be how we got from this lede, posted online Friday by the Torygraph:

A young woman in eastern Ukraine has provoked outrage by allegedly posting a picture of herself on Instagram using a mascara wand looted from the crash site of Flight MH17.

... to the front of today's Post:

She didn’t bat an eye when she painted her lashes with a dead woman’s mascara.

A Pro-Russia Ukrainian woman posted Instagram photos of herself dolled up with makeup that she claimed a “looter” friend swiped fromthe wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

The original bumbles a modifier: The outrage wasn't provoked* by the picture's being "allegedly" posted, because the alleged posting actually happened. It was provoked by the alleged origins of the mascara stick. That's technically a foul, but it's not going to be called in a close game, because that sort of who-cares-it's-news randomness is common to cops writing everywhere. The tabloid version takes the little fiction -- this might or might not be true, but it's way too good to check out, especially since it's not really check-out-able -- and adds another: She didn't bat an eye! Which we have no way of knowing, but since it's exactly the sort of thing those pro-Russia gals beauties brunettes temptresses would do,who cares?

The third graf of the original version is telling:

Russian and Ukrainian media said it could not be ruled out that the post was a fake, but that it appeared to be authentic.

Agreed. It looks like an authentic photo of a mascara stick. What that has to do with the authenticity of the larger themes is the sort of thing copy editors -- remember them? -- used to take some pride in asking.

Not everything you see on the interwebs is true. Obama wasn't bred from alien spores at Fort Detrick, Grumpy Cat is actually pretty mellow, and William Randolph Hearst almost certainly didn't say "You provide the pictures, I'll provide the war." Coupled with the press's longstanding history of getting stuff wrong in conflicts,** you might wonder what the New York Post wants you to take away from today's cover. Or you might not.

* "Sparked" is the technical journalistic term; let's work on that, Torygraph subs.
** One of my favorite chapters in "Big Story" is "First reports are always partly wrong." 

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You don't say!

11:49 AM, July 26, 2014  

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