One of the great things about online media is that it’s current. Not only that, but it’s easy to edit or correct if things are slightly amiss. Basically, when we fuck up it’s fairly easy to hide it.
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The same can’t be said for the printed press. Once something’s been printed it’s out there for the world to see. That’s why I’m glad I write things online and not for a paper, because I fuck up a lot. But when newspapers fuck up, they’ve REALLY fucked up – pretty much their only option is to ride it out and print a retraction the next day. Guaranteed embarrassment and a drop in sales is likely their reward for fucking up. And it looks like the New York Times are in for just that, after this mortifying oversight.
People were devastated by news of David Bowie passing after an 18 month battle with cancer, Monday morning. But the news hadn’t reached New York, apparently, with the New York Times running an article that opened with the line:
It’s a good time to be David Bowie…
Now, I know it’s early days, but I’m willing to start taking bets on that being one of the most monumental fuck-ups of 2016. I dread to think what the backlash in the office was like that morning, someone must have been fired at the very least, if not beaten to death with a keyboard.
Now, let’s go back to that thing I was saying about online media and how easy that is to get right. The NYT ran the same article on a blog on their website, and amended it shortly after news broke of Bowie’s death. A+ for effort and all that but it doesn’t really work if you’ve already published the original opening on paper to an audience in excess of a million readers.
The New York Times weren’t alone in their Bowie faux-pas though. If there’s one paper you can count on to print something stupid it’s the Daily Mail. They published an interview with his ex-wife Angie Bowie, claiming that the musical legend forced her into a:
…debauched open marriage [before he] ‘poisoned’ their son against her.
I’m not sure if they’re trying to broaden their literary horizons by employing new techniques (juxtaposition, perhaps?) but that interview seems to go against their front page today, just a tad:
Almost as bad as the time this newspaper used a photo of one of the stars of Jackass to mourn a dead Israeli soldier. Almost.