Special to the Times: Rehashed fluff

Yesterday’s Seattle Times re-ran a New York Times article on how the Oklahoma City Thunder (formerly the Seattle Sonics) are contributing to their new hometown. “Despite dismal record, the Thunder is contributing to city’s booming town status,” runs the Seattle paper’s headline. And how are they contributing exactly?

Well, we learn that the transfer of the Sonics has been “an unqualified success,” that it helps make OKC more attractive to employers because people think, “If I take this job, I get to live in Oklahoma City!”, that there’s “a big-time excitement here,” and that the team’s arrival sends “a coast-to-coast signal that this city is primed for the limelight.”

The voices behind these sentiments belong to, respectively: NBA commissioner David Stern, OKC Mayor Mick Cornett, Thunder player Desmond Mason, and Times NBA reporter Jonathan Abrams. Also interviewed by the Times: Thunder GM Sam Presti. And that’s it – not a single independent economist or urban planner, let alone an actual critic of the Hornets’ move.

A more honest headline would have been “Advocates of Sonics Move Say It’s Working Out Great For Oklahoma City” – but that’s apparently too much honesty for either coast’s Times.

2 comments on “Special to the Times: Rehashed fluff

  1. Neil- Reading “journalism” pieces like this one is just grating. In your experience has pointing out the flimsiness of the story to the writer or paper ever encouraged a closer look at the story’s topic? Or are all my “you must be joking” emails to the writer/paper for my benefit only?

  2. It does make a difference sometimes – I’ve actually had the experience of calling TV news stations to correct an error and seeing it fixed on the next news cycle. It’s rare, but it does happen.

    The most important thing you can do is to clearly and calmly point out how the original coverage is biased or inaccurate. Also, if possible, you might want to call rather than e-mail. It’s easier to ignore a jammed in-box than a phone ringing off the hook.