Lies, Damn Lies…and Journalism

As part of the publicity for our movie (don’t worry – this is the last you’ll hear of it, and it isn’t really the subject in this piece anyway), a journalist from the Tribune came out to interview us. Rather less impressive was how the piece failed to appear until several days after the premiere, and when it did show up, seemed to bear only a passing resemblance to the truth.

The errors started precisely four words in, with a woeful inability to spell our name: throughout the article, it was given as McLennon, rather than McLennan. Here are the other distortions, half-truths and downright falsehoods contained therein:

  • “Chris McLennon began creating handmade beaded jewelry at home and part-time 20 years ago.” – She actually started in 1991.
  • “Sometimes we take a break…I’ll go in my back yard and trim my citrus trees.” – Few things are less likely for Chris to do as a leisure pursuit. In the three years I’ve lived here, I’ve not seen her trim foliage once – this is what we have Mexicans for. 🙂
  • “The couple met electronically after Chris, who moved her business to Scottsdale from New York…” – it never operated at all when she was in New York.
  • “…e-mailed her future husband after reading his magazine on the Internet.” – she first got in touch with me several years before TC had any kind of internet presence, and before Chris even had a computer. The first contact was a hand-written note with $20 in it as a subscription.
  • “Chris McLennon paused, looked about her office, her living room and outside at her orange, lemon and lime trees” – Despite what he writes, the journalist was never actually here, the interview was conducted by telephone. Also, you can see no citrus trees from either our office or our living room.
  • “If you’d told me years ago that I’d have a very successful business from home on a computer I would have thought you were crazy.” – Attributed to Chris, who said no such thing. I said, that I’d have thought you were crazy if you’d told me when I was working for HSBC, that I’d end up selling beads in Phoenix.
  • “It’s the kind of movie we think people want to buy and watch, and the kind of film we’re adding to our movie business.”Adding? Not unless you count flogging off unwanted DVDs on Ebay as a “movie business”. Perhaps this ties in with the “new movie sales and rental company” attributed to us previously in the article.
  • “Trash City, originally a printed paper magazine that began in his native Scotland in 1989.” – By 1989, I’d been out of Scotland for two years, and was actually living in Farnborough, Hampshire.

Yes, most of these errors are trivial and unimportant – but the sheer volume and carelessness of them is disturbing. If such a simple, easily verifiable story can be executed so inaccurately, what chance is there for anything more complex? When you know the actual facts, then see the “truth” as reported in a newspaper, and discover the gulf between them, it inevitably makes you (even more) cynical about every other story reported in the press.