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Bottom Feeding

Dumb Survey Results Followed by Even Dumber Reporting

Is a news trail about a shocking “tech terms” multiple-choice survey taken by American consumers on behalf of UK outfit Vouchercloud still valid if:

a) the LA Times reporter who started it all never actually saw the survey?;
b) the methodology and margins-of-error for said survey are completely unknown?;
c) the survey answers – including the headline-grabbing claim that 11% of Yanks answering think HTML refers to a sexually transmitted disease – suggest that many of the alleged two-thousand-plus respondents raced through the questionnaire with carelessness, goofiness, or both?


LAT tech reporter Salvador Rodriguez‘s pick-up of a Vouchercloud press release blazed a trail across the Internet Tuesday, most notably as a Drudge link, Romenesko headline of the day, Time item and BuzzFeed pictorial. But some good digging by iMediaEthics managing editor Sydney Smith has led BuzzFeed’s Ryan Broderick, Time‘s Jessica Roy and Romenesko to all post updates. Here is BuzzFeed’s:


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Assessing the Baron Davis ‘Alien Abduction’ Coverage

This ridiculous news item took flight thanks to a July 11 episode of Neal Brennan and Moshe Kasher‘s The Champs podcast. It officially crash landed exactly a week later by means of a Mea Culpa conversation between Knick hopeful Baron Davis and MSG Network’s Alan Hahn.

Now that the imaginary probes have been put away, all that’s left heading into the weekend is to award a few prizes  to some of the media folks that had the most fun with Davis’ close encounter of the made-up kind:

Best Slide Show – TIME: Northwestern/Medill grad and magazine writer/Web producer Samantha Grossman used the Davis podcast declaration to anchor a “10 Stars Who Have Seen Aliens” click-through.

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Blogger Violet Blue Discovers SEO Spamming Of Her Columns

perfect_market_3.11.10.jpgAn LA-based firm called Perfect Market is helping newspapers and/or websites cash in on their archived articles through a practice that’s curiously close to spamming.

When blogger and popular sex columnist Violet Blue set about combing through’s archives for research on a post, she came across something that would have made any blogger turn… cerulean? Blue discovered that the site had been copying and distorting her online archives, stripping her posts of all links, commas, bio information and comments and spreading the content across several pages. Additionally, and rather disturbingly for the famously sex-positive columnist, the URL for her column had been changed to “ashamed porn star.”

Perfect Market works by saturating “shadow” web pages with SEO-friendly outbound links and ads. You’ve likely happened upon similar pages at some time or another while searching for terms online, or, if you write online, you may have received emails from companies promising to “boost traffic” through “keyword optimization” or the like. The mission statement on the company’s website, however, places a slightly more positive spin on their practices:

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John Mayer Is So Over “F***ing Lots of Girls”


Wanna save traditional media? Just talk to a crazy musician for your next feature. Seriously, the more Kanye stages an impromptu award show protest or Lady Gaga tells Oprah of her pre-Pandora dreams of being painted blue, the more I love it!

And, when it comes to hot quotable messes, it doesn’t get any better than the Playboy Interview with John Mayer. The musician and tabloid staple’s musings on sex, his childhood, and more sex is sure to keep him a trending topic. (Or in Twitter time, at least the next couple hours.)

Read our top five Mayer-isms after the jump. Note: because the interview truly is worth reading in its entirety, the following is taken unabashedly out of context.

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Keller’s Letter To Award Committee Comes To Light, Journal Responds

nytwsj.jpgEarlier this week, New York Times‘ media columnist David Carr wrote a piece summarizing the last two years at The Wall Street Journal since it was sold by the Bancroft family to Rupert Murdoch‘s News Corp.

The article boiled down to the fact that the publication has become, in Carr’s opinion, much more right-wing and conservative, especially in its D.C. bureau, following the takeover. Immediately after the piece was published, we received a comment from Robert Thompson, managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, who accused Carr of bringing up old rivalries between the two publications. Although it has to be mentioned that in his statement it was Thompson who rehashed old fights, by mentioning how last year Times‘ executive editor Bill Keller wrote a memo to “a prize committee” urging them to look closer at some of the Journal‘s stories before handing out awards for excellence in journalism.

And in case you thought that would be the end of it, you were wrong: now that the two print titans have each other in the crosshairs, neither is backing down. Oooh, fight!

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New York Post Practices Unsafe Journalism


And here we are, talking about accountability again, which was not used with any thought to discretion today in New York Post‘s article about Spoofcard, a service that allows you to scramble your number for outgoing calls, making it easy to hack into people’s messaging services, get their voicemails, and even change their messages.

Why is this relevant news?

Well, because Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan have had their phones hacked using Spoofcards, and since The Post has given you step-by-step instructions on how to use one of those “theoretically legal” (what does that even mean? Lawfully legal? Juridically legal? But not morally legal?) cards, soon you too can be using them for “for pranks, calling boyfriends or mothers under another number to fool them.” Not The Post approves, in anyway, of course. They’re just letting you know.

Don’t Abuse The Anonymous Tip Box, Keep The Comments Coming

Anonymous2.jpgIt’s summer and there’s not much going on in the city, but we can’t help but notice that our anonymous tip box has been getting a lot of attention recently.

We’ve been editing this blog for a little over a month now, and although we are so grateful for your continued feedback and tips, we have to point out that the anonymous tip box should be used appropriately. There is a place for comments — there are comment boxes below each and every article. By sending your comments to us directly, “anonymously,” through the tip box, you take away the ability of our community to discuss your ideas and opinions. That kind of discussion is so important to blogs, and we want to encourage it. (Plus, you can still remain anonymous as a commenter, if you want.)

As a result (and because it’s Friday and we wanted to have some fun) we have posted some of the comments that we have received over the past few days below, as well as the articles we think they were in response to. We want to hear your voice, we just want everyone to hear it, too. So continue to give us your feedback and comments, and we’ll respond to you, too.

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Friday Leftovers: T+L in Korea, Full Frontal Fashion

sarahpalin.jpgTravel + Leisure will launch its seventh international edition. The latest spin-off will debut in South Korea in September. So-Young Joo, previously managing editor of Asiana and We, will be the magazine’s editor.

Ultra HD relaunched Full Frontal Fashion just in time for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Everyone run for the hills. Or better yet, The Hills?

Readers are canceling their subscriptions to US Weekly because of its Sarah Palin cover. (Or not.)

The Dogs Days of Summer: Not Hot Enough For You?

We’re not entirely sure how it’s only Thursday today and not Friday — probably some evil plan concocted by NBC to fool the entire country in order to make more money off the Olympics. Anyway, it’s August, and as much as we love gazing at Michael Phelps we need a break. To that end we bring you an entirely new sporting event, as exhibited by Gavin Miles McInnes, former Vice founder and currently one half of In our minds this is nothing less than an Olympian feat, and possibly should be considered as a future event. Synchronized pepper eating anyone?

Privacy Laws Going Down (Under)?

privacy.gifThose silly Aussies and their precious privacy. According to The Australian, Oz media companies are bracing for the Australian Law Reform Commission to recommend new laws that would severely limit the nature of the reporting done on public figures.

The new law “could have a significant chilling effect on the reporting of the private lives of celebrities,” communications law firm Gilbert + Tobin partner Peter Leonard told the paper.

As an example of the type of reporting that could no longer be done, The Australian cites the case of Wayne Carey, a well-known Aussie Rules football play who was accused of having a fling with an escort. So essentially, if we passed this law in the States, we’d never know about Eliot Spitzer. America, f*ck yeah.