Monday, August 18, 2014

Off by just a quarter century

I realize this is a trivial thing, but this paragraph from an article by Thomas Mentel bothers me for a couple of not-so-trivial reasons.
One of Showtime’s very first forays into original programming, it’s hard to believe that Californication only just concluded after a run of seven years and seven seasons. First premiering in 2007, Californication tells the story of troubled New York writer Hank Moody who moves to California and suffers from severe writer’s block. Additionally, his issues with hedonism push his relationship with longtime lover Karen and their daughter to the brink while he attempts change his self-destructive ways.
Even with the wiggle room that comes with "one of," this is still dead wrong. Showtime got into original programming early in the game, starting with Faerie Tale Theatre in 1982. The channel ran literally dozens of dramas and comedies before debuting Californication in 2007 (see for yourself), including some fairly notable titles like Queer as Folk and Gary Shandling's first sitcom.

This is a small mistake in possibly the least important journalistic genre imaginable, but even by that standard, shouldn't we expect at least a little research? It took me all of three minutes to find a list of Showtime's original programs. How can anyone put his name on an article for the whole world to see and not bother to spend five minutes checking his facts.

The other thing that bothers me about this is that it's another reminder of how PR creates reality in the 21st Century. In 2005, there was a major restructuring at Viacom that resulted in, among other things, Showtime becoming to CBS what HBO is to Time Warner. Shortly after that there was a massive publicity push behind the network's shows. When Mentel calls Californication "[o]ne of Showtime’s very first forays into original programming," he means one of the first that a PR department told him about.

1 comment:

  1. The entire "let me google that for you" issue. It's weird to see that happen in articles with a name attached. Absolutely common as internet noise pollution. As in, a thread on a discussion board mentioned a craving for Arby's and bemoaned that the closest one is miles and miles away. People responded "there's one ..." or "isn't there one at ..." when typing "Arby's locations MA" would give the answer that no there isn't one.

    But failing to check in articles is becoming a norm: people take something and pass it around and that continuous passing can make it difficult to verify the source material because you have to wade through pages of repetitive google links. Point is you'd think it would be easier to check but there seems to be a behavior which not only doesn't want to bother but which then makes replication & checking more difficult. It's like we have a need to obfuscate.