Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tennessean headline accuses MCC critics of hiding in anonymity

In a five-column headline plastered across today's op-ed section of the Tennessean, a copy editor wrote and had published the misleading view that those of us who criticize the plans for a new convention center "hide in anonymity." Here's the screen shot for this morning's online edition:

After reading the headline, which also conflicted with the points made in the opinion piece itself, I availed the Tennessean Twitter stream and expressed to the editors that I am a critic and not hiding in anonymity as the headline maintained. The unnamed Tennessean tweetmaster replied that the authors were not editors but a council member and MCC booster.

Knowing that most titles are written by editors I tweeted back, asking for clarity:
So, editors did not entitle the editorial? Adkins and Lee provided the title, "Convention center critics hide in anonymity"?

Please confirm because when I blog about this I want to attribute responsibility to the correct authors of the title itself.

Here's the reply I got back from the Tennessean:
The writers are not Tennessean employees. That is guest commentary. (confirmed)

It still did not seem right to me, so I tried one more time:
So, I will be speaking factually when I attribute authorship of the title itself to CM Greg Adkins and Tom Lee?

Time passed and I checked another website covering the opinion piece only to find out that one of the authors was contacted and he maintained that Tennessean editors had indeed come up with title. Shortly thereafter the Tennessean updated its Twitter stream to say that an editor had supplied the title and the authors were not responsible.

Someone immediately edited the online edition with a new title (the delivered hard copies, which have a larger readership, remain unchanged):

Likewise, I quickly pointed out that the new headline was not accurate since many of us who debate the issue are not hidden in anonymity. A few minutes later then headline was again altered:

We should at least acknowledge the Tennessean's intention to correct its online copy when an error is pointed out. However, that doesn't change the pejorative influence that the editors' headline created on the large numbers of those who already consumed the story online and in hard copy.

And as Bruce Barry points out, there was something a little odd about the Twitter exchange:
After an odd back and forth on Twitter with Mike Byrd in which The Tennessean inanely tweeted that the writers of the op-ed are not its employees, the paper's editors finally came to understand that they bear responsibility for the absurd headline that they (and not the piece's authors) wrote .... Nonetheless, they still make the basic online journalism error of not noting the correction in the piece itself.
There's no room for pro journos to criticize bloggers when they can't exercise their own craft with precision. Misrepresenting critics and opponents of the Music City Center when they constitute such a large number of people in Davidson County is unforgivable even with the corrections.

1 comment:

  1. I guess all of those folks who stood up at the televised public hearing, stating their name & address are hiding as well?