Internet Journalism at Its Most

Airlock Alpha now is demanding “Where Did The Fake Harlan Ellison Story Come From? EXCLUSIVE: Famed author never corrected people who were congratulating him.”

I may scoff but none of you will be fooled. You will know I secretly envy Michael Hinman’s ability to squeeze another post out of the very fact that he has no story to write about. (What was your first clue? Maybe this post for File 770, ostensibly about the story he doesn’t have?)

Yahoo! contributor Erik Shirey originated the story that Ellison had “won” his suit against the makers of In Time, which many of us repeated. Andrew Porter sent me a version run by the Orlando Sentinel and I traced it back to Yahoo! when I drafted my own report.

However, Airlock Alpha‘s Hinman has a sufficiently high profile that he got calls from Vincent Cox, an attorney with Leopold Petrick & Smith in Los Angeles, who is representing Niccol in the suit, as well as an attorney with the Writers Guild of America, complaining the original story was false. I guarantee it would shake me up to be getting those calls.

Cox also posted a denial as a comment on the story at SF Site.

Apparently none of us ever took notice of Shirey before this. But he posts a lot on Yahoo! Movies, which makes it tempting to argue in a kind of Queeg-like manner that the story must have come from someplace — “I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt, and with geometric logic, that a duplicate key to the ward room icebox did exist…”

After all, where does any news on the internet come from? Shirey could have made up this story. He could have based it on a rumor. He could have encountered some kind of information about settlement negotiations that have yet to actually bear fruit. He could have been intentionally misled by someone who wanted this story run in order to influence negotiations. (Are any of you basketball fans? Then you’ve already seen this happen many times in coverage of the current NBA labor negotiations.)

All I know is that when it comes to this story Harlan Ellison hasn’t said a thing. And darn it, when Harlan Ellison has nothing to say, that’s news!

3 thoughts on “Internet Journalism at Its Most

  1. Mike:

    Definitely understand where you’re coming from. But we’ve both been involved with all of this for years, so you know how it is … it sucks getting duped, and when someone decides they are going to try and dupe a bunch of people — to the point of damaging someone’s reputation (not mine, Andrew Niccol’s) — then it must be investigated and exposed to discourage such garbage from happening again.

    So yeah, I’m going to stay on it. I am not just some passive entertainment journalist here, I am an active one … so if nothing else, I hope you understand that, even if you don’t agree. 🙂

    Good coverage by the way!

  2. @Michael: I’d play it the same way. The contact from the lawyers wasn’t only a correction, it is a story in its own right. Mostly these things settle, so we tend to assume from the silence that settlement is in process. Evidence that Niccol is (at least for the moment) still hot and litigating is news, even though we also want to fulfill our obligation to square accounts for spreading Shirey’s bad story.

    In my first post, besides repeating your story I researched and reported Ellison’s failure to respond to congratulations in his forum as my “added value” to what you’d learned from Cox. You developed the Ellison component into a separate story. Realizing you’d ginned up two posts to my one (scoreboard!), I was inspired to write satirically about the gamesmanship of running a news blog. Poking a little fun at you required zinging myself at the same time.

    Also, I’ve been reading James Garner’s autobiography — he wrote about his a minor role in a stage production of The Caine Mutiny (one of the judges), so Queeg has been on my mind.

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