Creative omission does not equal street cred in media
There’s a line in The Kite Runner wherein one of the characters advises his son that every wrong is in some way a “variation of theft”: theft of time, theft of trust and so on. I won’t cop to being religious, but the intent of the idea is there and what a thought it is.
Of course, honesty, ethics and integrity in the “media” seem to have gone the way of polarization with fabulists and marketing heathens on one end and those of us that call these fabricators out on the other end. Credibility, anyone? Or is that even part of the lexicon now? (No, manufactured “street cred” doesn’t count. Sorry, rappers, we all hijacked that from you.)
Creative omission is not something that we are teaching, but learning—if for no other reason than the fact that we are not teaching the alternative.
Given how ridiculously easy it is to publish one’s voice online, ethics and honesty in “reporting” is, in an ideal world, the first thing anyone should learn. You log on to Twitter or Wordpress or Facebook and Boom! There you have it: your opinion for the whole world to see. It’s not a matter of what’s nice or not nice so much as, “Does this belong to you?” or “Is this a piece of fiction that you’re presenting as fact?”
If you want to present fabrication as fact, go be a fucking fiction writer.
Adding to this is a “keeping the peace” attitude about taking down those who steal material from other people or are dishonest regarding what they hawk. Requesting credit or that said perpetrator merely take the stolen material down is not enough. Consequences of dishonesty should amount to more than online humiliation if anyone is to learn what NOT to do. (Disclosure: when my own work was stolen, the magazine’s publisher asked the website to remove it or face legal action. This works in most cases, but consequences should be stiffer for repeat offenders.)
And in case anyone forgot, ethics extends to the talking heads of marketing and PR, too.
Twice in the last month, I have had dealings with so-called press managers that don’t seem to understand some basics of ethical journalism.
- I can’t cover your band/issue/event for more than one publication at the same time—even if I write for multiple publications. More importantly, I can’t give you press coverage if you’re family/close friend/etc. Do you know what that’s called? Nepotism.
- You probably shouldn’t ask several different people at the same publishing company/magazine to cover an event/issue/band and then not tell them you’ve already spoken with X,Y and Z. We all communicate, so that’s almost a guarantee to land you in our spam box in the future.
- No, I will not accept money from you for a positive review—that’s called bribery.
- If we agree to make space for an exclusive interview with your client in our July issue, that doesn’t mean that you can send the 5-question Q&A back to me three months later. Deadlines are deadlines—even if we do publish online and your client is famous.
- Don’t tell me that you haven’t received review copies of ____ yet when your client just announced via Twitter/Facebook that ____ is in stores/iTunes/Amazon now.
Most people have had the plagiarism and/or dishonesty speech drilled into their heads since grade school and yet, we’re not getting the message…or maybe we are and people are just stupid enough to think they won’t get caught.
Do we live in a time where self-promotion is the tool of the trade? Sure. Still, standards need maintaining.