Saturday, 20 April 2013

It Wasn't Sunil Tripathi

The Atlantic has a sobering write-up of how the Internet falsely identified missing Brown student Sunil Tripathi as one of the Boston bombing suspects yesterday.

[T]here was a full-on frenzy as thousand upon thousands of tweets poured out, many celebrating new media's victory in trouncing old media. It was all so shockingly new and the pitch was so high and it was so late at night on one of the craziest days in memory. That Redditors might have identified the bomber hours before anyone but law enforcement seemed like amazing redemption for people who'd supported Reddit's crowdsourcing efforts.

Hughes himself, the primary source of the information on Twitter, tweeted, "If Sunil Tripathi did indeed commit this #BostonBombing, Reddit has scored a significant, game-changing victory." And then later, he continued, "Journalism students take note: tonight, the best reporting was crowdsourced, digital and done by bystanders. #Watertown."

Within a few hours, however, NBC's Phillips had confirmed with his sources that two Chechnyan brothers were the primary suspects in the case. Their names and stories came out quickly. This horrible deed of misidentification ended mercifully quickly. Apologies were made.

Journalism students should still take note, of course - this is stuff you learn the first week of class. Don't make assumptions. Stuff from the police scanner is unconfirmed and should not be reported. Check and check and check your sources.

Sunday, 14 April 2013


Neglected the journalism blog again because I remembered I also like writing about fiction and music and cats and stuff.

If you're interested in reading any of that in no particular order, you can check out my Tumblr:

Thursday, 14 February 2013


A portrait of me from the photographers of the Otago Daily Times, during a training session last week.

Crucial lesson: keep the face in focus.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Law & Order: Dublin Edition

Court reporting has its moments. Especially in Ireland apparently.

"The plaintiff said of the experience, 'It frightened the shite out of me altogether, Lord Jesus.'"

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Presidential Snark


Official White House Response to "Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016":

This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For

The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn't on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:
  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

That's awesome, I don't care who you voted for.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Review: Sweet Tooth

Originally published in the Greymouth Star, 10 January 2013

Imagine Jane Austen writing a spy novel set in 1970s London, and you’ll have a decent idea what to expect of the latest book from Atonement author Ian McEwan.

Beautiful, conservative Serena Frome, a third-rate mathematician with a passion for books, is groomed for recruitment to the British intelligence service by her much-older lover. She is assigned to the “Sweet Tooth” project, a secret effort to fight the Communism culture war by funnelling government money to anti-Communist writers.

Serena’s first recruit is Tom Haley, a charming artistic sort who writes short stories about lust, betrayal and self-delusion. Her fascination with these stories leads to an attraction to Tom and they begin an exciting affair, spending their weekends going to classy restaurants, drinking champagne and discussing literature.

But the longer the affair continues, the harder it is for Serena to keep her mission a secret or avoid the suspicions of MI5 – especially when Tom uses their money to write a dystopian novel about the excesses of capitalism.

Sweet Tooth is a classic McEwan book, with the same slow pace and long, introspective chapters as Atonement and On Chesil Beach. The Cold War discussions are interesting if you like history and politics, and the descriptions of British intelligence call to mind the dimly-lit bureaucratic intrigue of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

But if you’re hoping for a thriller, you’ll be disappointed. Early hints of violence and danger never go anywhere, and the only real surprise is a clever plot twist at the very end, which makes you want to go through the book all over again to pick up the clues you missed.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Body Image

The NZ Herald Online went unintentionally meta in this article about the need for positive female role models to battle "the epidemic of eating disorders and self-harming among young girls":

I can't tell if the ad undermines the article or reinforces it, but either way it shows the risk of combining news, advertising and automated web design.