< Letters


Friday, July 13, 2012

BOB GARFIELD:  This is On the Media. I’m Bob Garfield, with a few of your letters. Last week, we spoke to BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti about allegations that his website, which is a sort of compendium of viral goodness, often borrows material from elsewhere without sufficient credit. Users of the website Reddit, one of the sites mentioned, objected to what they saw as our characterization of the site.

Wrote Robert Sevens from Florida, quote:  “You really did a disservice to the online site Reddit when it was described in this piece as, quote, “ site where lots of people discuss funny things online.” It is a social news site, and though the young male contingent of its users can't get over themselves about how funny they are, international and US news, politics, technology and science discussions attract large numbers of users.”

Another comment from a person with the user name sleet01 made a similar point, quote, “Your reporting…did little justice to the Reddit site or its communities. I understand this story was meant to cover Buzzfeed, but Reddit is so much more than, well, Buzzfeed.” Point taken.

A rebroadcast of a piece about the world of late night TV pitchmen prompted listeners to write in with reminiscences about their own experiences.

Elizabeth Bird from Landers, California told us how she bought a picture hanger from Billy Mayes. Bird writes, “Billy said the purchasers would “get them for life” to which I paid zero attention… Hangers were mailed to me -about every 3 to 4 months - for FREE. Just one little glitch, however. The shipping and handling cost $5.95 per shipment.” Late night TV caveat emptor.

We also got heaps of mail about a story we didn’t broadcast. Here’s one such letter from Jacob Metcalf, quote, “Dear OTM. I would love to have your take on this story:  Joe Olivo is a small business owner who appears all over the media, supposedly neutrally representing the views of small business owners and their dislike of workers’ rights and healthcare reform. In fact, NPR has interviewed him twice, including last Sunday in a story about minimum wage requirements.”

The writer goes on to explain that Joe Olivo is actually a member of the National Federation of Independent Business, the lead plaintiff in the Obamacare case decided by the Supreme Court. According to Metcalf and several other astute listeners who contacted us, NPR and other outlets have failed to identify him as anything but the humble owner of a print shop about to be crushed by big government.

Metcalf ends with this quote:  “This strikes me as just the kind of story you would cover, illustrating a disturbing trend in journalism.” All right, Jacob, all right! We’ll cover it.

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Bob Garfield