Dateline: Cougar, USA

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I don’t know what to call this other than annoying and dishonest. I read Maureen Dowd’s latest piece in the NYTimes two days ago, thought it was good, thought she was working the New Hampshire beat. Spefically the small hamlet of Derry.

No. Turns out a couple of her little under-roos worked the beat. She was in, of all places, Jerusalem. Even though the dateline reads Derry, N.H.

What’s a “dateline” you ask?

A dateline is a short piece of text included in news articles that describes where and when the story was written or filed, though the date is often omitted. …Datelines are traditionally placed on the first line of the text of the article, before the first sentence. Source:

What’s the big deal you ask?

I expect more than this from both the NYTimes and Ms. Dowd. If I write something implying I was at a race, that means I was there. Otherwise, I have someone else talk about it or I rely it third person.

TPM has a much better (as per usual) write up than the likes of me could ever put to paper.

It appears to be standard practice at The Times. Columnists have assistants who do reporting for them but don’t get any credit. Life is good if you’re a top-shelf political columnist.

Dowd did spend some time in New Hampshire, it turns out. Times spokesperson Catherine Mathis confirmed to me that Dowd had gone to Jerusalem, noting that Dowd had been in New Hampshire before heading abroad. What about that “Derry, N.H.” dateline? Not an issue, Mathis says. Times dateline policy dictates that the reporter spend some time in the place identified, and doesn’t require the reporter to be there all the time or file the piece from that location.

The thing is, anyone reading this piece would assume that Dowd had hoofed it to the victory party to lament Hillary’s victory firsthand. Instead, she was apparently filing this New Hampshire-datelined piece from Jerusalem. Times policy may say this is okay, but it seems like a bit more clarity couldn’t hurt — if only because it would prevent folks from thinking Dowd was at the party and had done the work of talking to the voters she quoted, when neither of these things apparently happened.

“If she was in Jerusalem, and the dateline says New Hampshire and there’s local color from New Hampshire, there’s an issue,” journalism prof Jay Rosen told me. “There may not be any violation, but it’s fair to ask questions about these kinds of practices.”

Why not stick around for the whole story? And anyway, even if there’s more pressing news that demanded her attention, a campaign piece datelined Jerusalem would not have lacked for dash and flair.

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About big jonny

The man, the legend. The guy who started it all back in the Year of Our Lord Beer, 2000, with a couple of pages worth of idiotic ranting hardcoded on some random porn site that would host anything you uploaded, a book called HTML for Dummies (which was completely appropriate), a bad attitude (which hasn’t much changed), and a Dell desktop running Win95 with 64 mgs of ram and a six gig hard drive. Those were the days. Then he went to law school. Go figure. Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

10 Replies to “Dateline: Cougar, USA”

  1. Big Jonny, et al–

    Alas, another sign that we live in a relativistic age. There is no Truth [sic], only relatively true statements. For a guy like me, trained in the physical sciences, it’s sad that people don’t know/don’t care… they believe whatever they like the sound of, call it “true” and most of the time are wrong. There is a critical distinction between Knowledge [sic] and true belief; that too is lost these days. In some ways, the Greeks had it all over us.


  2. …oh, sure, next you’ll want me to believe there’s underhandedness & subterfuge in politics, as well as journalism…

    …you just never stop pushing the limits of credibility, do ya ???…

  3. OK…..BP.

    The Hungry as a horse one got me laughing big time. Gracias.

    You say I can’t vote, but I’m doing it anyway.

    I give Royale 1.3 a Yay.

    The others are too busy or the fonts are too small.

    Gotta remember your elders young man. Gots to remember.

    I’m going to go drink a beer in honor of your still being in your skivies on this fine day.

  4. …thank you, bikepunk…them’s is “cute” funny & sometimes that be a good & necessary kinda thing…