Darts & Laurels

Flight 370 and Fox's spelling 'be'

DART to Newsweek for its Bitcoin debacle. The magazine blazed back into print with “The Face Behind Bitcoin,” a cover story allegedly unmasking the mysterious creator of the digital currency as Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, a 64-year-old Japanese American living in California. Except a lot of people weren’t convinced. And Nakamoto himself said Newsweek had the wrong man. Most media observers were undecided. “It would have been less satisfying, for Newsweek,” wrote Reuter’s Felix Salmon, “to present the Dorian-is-Satoshi theory as just a theory, rather than as fact. But it is only a theory.” A DART, too, to the horde of reporters that descended on Nakamoto’s doorstep and chased him and an AP journalist around town after he decided to grant the AP an interview.

DART to Fox News for managing to misspell “spelling bee” in, yes, a report on a spelling bee. The Fox & Friends segment featured onscreen graphics asking if the Kansas City, MO, contest had been the “longest spelling be ever?” Can we get a definition for the word “irony”?

DART to The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove, who, in a profile of MSNBC anchor Joy Reid, revealed that he thinks “Zaire” is “today’s name for the Congo.” Zaire is, in fact, yesterday’s name for the country that became the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1997.

DART to a local BBC radio station for broadcasting the sound of a woman screaming and dogs howling during a report on the Oscar Pistorius murder trial. The double-amputee sprinter is accused of killing his girlfriend. As the reporter said, “he admits shooting Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year,” a woman’s screams could be heard. A technical glitch meant that special effects being prepared in another studio were accidentally aired over the news bulletin, a BBC spokesperson said. The show’s host apologized immediately afterwards.

LAUREL to students and alumni at the Mohyla School of Journalism in Kiev for launching StopFake.org, a crowdsourced website that debunks fake and propagandistic stories on Ukraine and Crimea.

LAUREL to New York magazine for poking fun at The New York Times’ claim that monocles are making a comeback. It seems the Gray Lady has heralded the return of Mr. Peanut’s favorite eyepiece as a must-have fashion accessory, over and over again, for the past 112 years. We look forward to future Times trend pieces on the bustle, spats, and lorgnettes.

LAUREL to CNN’s Brian Stelter for exposing how a single press release misled news outlets—including Time, ABC, NBC, and CNN itself—into thinking ads for medical marijuana had been broadcast for the first time in New Jersey. MarijuanaDoctors.com claimed it was buying ads through a division of Comcast and that the commercials would mark the first time a major US network had allowed advertising for medical marijuana. But the ads never aired. MarijunaDoctors.com sent out the release before Comcast agreed to broadcast the ads, and reporters didn’t wait to confirm the commercials actually aired before publishing their stories.

DART to the ludicrous spectacle that was CNN’s nonstop coverage of the search for Malaysia Airlines flight 370. The plane departed from Kuala Lumpur International Airport on March 8 and subsequently vanished, with the loss of 227 passengers and a dozen crew. CNN anchor Don Lemon speculated about supernatural reasons for its disappearance, then asked guests if the plane might have been swallowed by a black hole. Because as we all know, real life is identical to episodes of The Twilight Zone and Lost.

Speaking of Lost, a DART to KETV in Omaha, NE, for comparing Flight 370 to the show and tweeting a photoshopped Lost poster to promote the station’s coverage. The backlash was so great the station was forced to apologize.

LAUREL to Deadspin for skewering an ill-advised lede on a CNN.com article about newly released photos from the scene of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s suicide 20 years ago. The offending lede quoted a line from the song “Come As You Are”—“And I swear that I don’t have a gun”—then said, “Despite the pledge in those lyrics that went around the world in the early 1990s, police in Seattle say that Kurt Cobain did have at least one gun.” Deadspin responded with nearly two dozen attempts at a worse opening, including: ” ‘Here we are now/Entertain us,’ Kurt Cobain once sang, but apparently we weren’t entertaining enough, because he shot himself.”

LAUREL to The New York Times for its detailed investigation into illegal immigration, which proved that the Obama administration is deporting immigrants at a record pace, and that most deportees aren’t hardened criminals, but people with minor infractions or no criminal record at all.

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Edirin Oputu is a former assistant editor at CJR. Follow her on Twitter @EdirinOputu