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Archive for November 13th, 2015

Times Sullivan postThanks to New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan for providing the first acknowledgment by anyone at the Times of a fundamentally flawed story I have noted here before.

I won’t revisit the saga of a 2007 Times puff piece about matchmaker Pari Livermore here. Read the links below if you want the background. The story’s premise was flawed and it inaccurately referred to a “charity event,” when the primary beneficiary was not registered as a charity. I think the Times should have corrected the story, regardless of its age (Sullivan called for an follow-up, not a correction). While we disagree about the need for a correction, I applaud Sullivan’s acknowledgment that the Times should have followed up on it when it learned about its flawed premise.

Nancy Levine

Nancy Levine

On one point I will heartily agree with Sullivan. Nancy Levine contacted Sullivan and me after she almost made a donation to Livermore, after finding and reading the Times story. But Levine, an executive recruiter, did a little more checking and learned that Spotlight on Heroes, the organization Livermore told her to make the check out to, wasn’t actually registered as a charity.

Levine has sent dozens of emails to Sullivan, other Times editors, other media editors and directors, California legislators and regulators. Sullivan described Levine as “one of the most persistent people I’ve ever come in contact with.” That I can attest to. This, not so much:

I’ll note that Mr. Buttry is almost as dogged as Ms. Levine.

No, I’m not nearly as dogged as Nancy is. She is also one of the most persistent people I’ve ever come in contact with. The media need persistent, dogged people to hold us accountable. Thanks, Nancy!

Twitter reactions

Previous posts relating to the Times Livermore story

Is there a statute of limitations on correcting errors or updating flawed stories?

Why are journalists so reluctant to correct and re-examine challenged stories?

Deni Elliott: Journalists often fail to think beyond ‘Charity = GOOD’

Other journalists correct a story the New York Times stubbornly refuses to correct

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A sponsored post in my Facebook news feed Nov. 13.

A sponsored post in my Facebook news feed Nov. 13.

I can’t figure out whether all the data that Amazon and Facebook have about me is scary or laughable.

But I know this: Surveillance of my Internet use isn’t the best way to sell me stuff.

Several years ago, I noticed a vendor in Washington’s Eastern Market who sold purses for women made from hardback book covers. My grandmother, Francena Arnold, was a successful author of Christian romance novels, so I ordered her first and best-selling novel, Not My Will, from Amazon and had a purse made for Mom (I couldn’t find a hardback edition available today).

For months afterward, I got emails from Amazon urging me to buy other Christian romance novels, even though I’ve never read one that Grandma didn’t write. Proud as I am of her, it’s her genre, not mine. But I get that: I registered with Amazon and bought a book there, and their computer tells them that I might like these other books that people who bought Not My Will also liked. That’s probably a successful use of data most of the time.

Check out the suggestion above from Amazon in my Facebook feed today: Amazon or Facebook or both think I might be interested in buying Pete Rose’s book, My Prison Without Bars. It’s a 12-year-old book, and I don’t know whether I’ve ever ordered a baseball book from Amazon (I usually get my baseball books as gifts), certainly not one that showed any interest in Pete Rose.

Here’s why Amazon and/or Facebook think I might be interested in that book, though: I went to Amazon and grabbed a screenshot of the cover for an Oct. 31 Hated Yankees post mocking Fox Sports for putting Rose and Alex Rodriguez in its pre-game studio during the World Series. I called it the Fox Sports Image Rehab Clinic and posted memes making fun of Rose’s photobomb moment in the studio.

I think Pete Rose is a liar and an embarrassment to baseball, however well he played the game before he started gambling. I didn’t buy the book in 2003 and I’m not going to buy it today. But because I visited that page a couple weeks ago Amazon and/or Facebook think a gentle reminder might nudge me back there to finally buy it.

Other times, when I have actually bought something from Amazon, I’ve seen ads for the same thing shortly afterward on Facebook. These were things that you’d only want one of. Maybe they thought I’d want to give them as gifts?

Another time I searched for an image to use in a smart-ass remark in a Facebook discussion. And Facebook kept showing me the same image for several days after that. (See my discussion of that below.)

It’s creepy that Facebook and Amazon computers know I showed an interest in the Pete Rose book and are trying to figure out how to sell me the book. But I’m not going to get scared until they figure out what to do with this data.

pinata

 

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After her morning appearance on

After her morning appearance on “Good Morning America,” Maya enjoyed the sights of New York.

As I recounted in the blog yesterday, my great-niece Maya Poulter, now 10 years old, and her parents were featured Thursday morning on “Good Morning America.”

As Robin Roberts recounted her favorite GMA moments as part of the show’s 40th anniversary celebration, the most memorable was the day she found Maya after the 2010 earthquake (and shared the good news by Skype with Mandy Poulter, my niece and Maya’s adoptive mother). The earthquake devastated Haiti after Maya’s adoption had been completed but before the U.S. State Department issued a visa to bring her home to Iowa. (Maya’s story is mentioned at about the 3:00 mark of the ABC video linked above and the studio interview begins at about the 7:00 mark).

Until Roberts called, Mandy and her husband, Matt, didn’t know whether their daughter had survived the quake. On Thursday’s program, Maya and her parents updated Roberts and her viewers on Maya’s current life in Pella, Iowa, again thanking Roberts and ABC for their role in rescuing Maya from the catastrophe in her homeland.

I recounted the story and various follow-up angles at length in Wednesday’s post previewing the ABC appearance and earlier posts linked at the end of this post. Nothing new to report today, but Mandy gave me permission to share some photos from Maya’s first visit to the Big Apple. (I usually try to avoid clichés, but that one seems to fit the fun of this trip).

“We are having a great time in New York,” Mandy reported in an email Thursday. “Maya really enjoyed meeting Robin.”

Matt, Maya and Mandy outside the Good Morning America studio in Times Square.

Matt, Maya and Mandy outside the Good Morning America studio in Times Square.

Maya gave Robin Roberts a Christmas tree ornament.

Maya gave Robin Roberts a Christmas tree ornament.

Maya enjoyed a cruise on her day in New York.

Maya enjoyed a cruise on her day in New York.

Mandy, Maya and Matt enjoying New York by carriage.

Mandy, Maya and Matt enjoying New York by carriage.

Maya outside ABC's TImes Square studios.

Maya outside ABC’s TImes Square studios.

Previous posts about Maya and her rescue from Haiti

The search for Maya made the Haiti disaster story personal

Mandy and Matt reunited with Maya Esther in Haiti

Maya’s enjoying life in Iowa

Maya’s adoption becomes final in Iowa

Humanity is more important and honest than objectivity for journalists

An update on Maya Poulter, six months after Haitian earthquake

Hoping Robin Roberts moves past MDS swiftly

My great-niece, Maya Poulter, was one of the best stories of Good Morning America’s 40 years (and my 60+)

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