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February 10 2005

Whoops, wrong lesbian kiss. The New York Times uses a photo of Willow and Kennedy kissing to illustrate its article on sweeps-week lesbian kisses, but the caption reads, On "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Willow (Alyson Hannigan, left) and Tara (Amber Benson) kissed for the first time on the episode "The Body." (Free site, but may require registration.)

The article goes on to mention Willow/Tara as "the longest lesbian relationship for main characters on a network series."

They'll probably fix the photo later if anybody notices.

Ah, edgy, but it's already too late--somebody has noticed!

They've done other stuff like this before and "corrected" it without mentioning the error...I'm going to check the print edition to see if it appears there.
They put the wrong picture......BOO!!! Kennedy looks nothing like the beautiful Tara.......sigh! I will cry now.
They mixed Tara up with Kennedy.........that sound you hear are thousands of Buffy fans typing angry e-mail responses. Someone is going to catch an earful. Talk about sacrilege of the Buffyverse.
I picked up a hard copy of the paper...definitely a Willow/Kennedy photo...mis-identified as the kiss Willow and Tara shared in "The Body"--screen cap here, from Buffyworld.com, to illustrate the remarkable difference...hope that's okay with Caroline, Simon, et. al.--

http://www.buffyworld.com/buffy/season5/vidcaps/thebody/thebody090.shtml

If not, please edit accordingly.

I'm surprised they still have the wrong picture on line...the photo in the paper is credited to John P. Johnson, UPN Network...duh, "The Body" ran on The WB, not UPN...there were maybe 50 ways they could have gotten this right, especially for an otherwise well-researched article that appears on page one of The Arts section, above the fold. A quick google of the "John P. Johnson" and "UPN" yields this (accurate) story that ran in Curve Magazine, which describes itself as "the nation’s best-selling lesbian magazine."

http://www.curvemag.com/Detailed/567.html

Seriously, if I could find this in just a few seconds of looking around, shouldn't the NY Times fact-checkers and researchers for the self-appointed "paper of record" be able to do a better job? Shoddy newspapering, I tell you...
Good grief, how hard is it to get some facts straight when you bring out an article on a topic?? And if you don't know the show, all the more reason to double-check.

You'd think anyway...
Good grief, how hard is it to get some facts straight when you bring out an article on a topic??
Just to play devil's advocate for a minute and come to the Times' defense... Actually, the reporter seems to have her facts straight, and the little chart in the online (but not print) version correctly identifies the first BtVS kiss as being on "The Body," between Willow and Tara, and their relationship as lasting for 2 1/2 seasons (not, I'm happy to say, "reversible" like the other kisses mentioned!). The error seems to have been with the photo staff – which, if it's anything like my paper, often has almost no communication with the editors, not to mention the writer. A sad fact of newspaper life is that the editors/writers are generally harried, don't have fact-checkers (that's magazines, not newspapers, that have time for fact-checking) and errors like this often slip through through no one's fault. Perhaps they asked the network for a photo of the kiss and didn't realize (not being BtVS fans) that the photo was of the wrong actress. Even a fan could have given the photo a quick glance and not noticed, since Kennedy's face is hidden – they probably just checked to make sure the text was correct (and often, on layout, the photo itself doesn't even appear till the last minute).

All a lot of words to say i wouldn't come down on the Times too hard. These kind of errors, frustrating as they are to anyone who knows the facts, happen all the time, usually through no one person's fault – just a byproduct of tight deadlines and multiple people responsible for the editing.

And I enjoyed the article itself.
acp, all true, but this is an article that obviously has been in the works for some time. It's not news, it's a feature, and it's timed to coincide with February ratings sweeps. Hence, the tight deadline excuse really doesn't work for an article of this kind.

Funny...my print edition has the kiss as occurring in "The Body."

Again, this wasn't hard to get right.
I sent an e-mail to them a couple of hours ago, so hopefully they'll either change the caption - or use the correct picture to go with the current caption.
Mine has the Storyteller kiss. The real sad thing here is that a picture with Amber Benson could only have helped to elevate her profile at a time when she is nearing completion of her new movie project and is also looking for a new acting gig. She is the one who got hurt by this error.
Dana5140, excellent point...damn the New York Times!

On the other hand, they will almost certainly print one of their rather baroque corrections...

[ edited by Chris inVirginia on 2005-02-11 14:23 ]
Well, have to confess that I'm not feeling the NY Times-hate here . . . but then I'm a left-coast liberal with a penchant for baroque corrections. :).

And having grown up on The Guardian, or The Grauniad as it's known to many in the UK on account of its frequent and often amusing typos, I have to say I don't mind the slip-ups all that much. Which isn't to deny that the Times could and should have got this one right.
SNT, I believe it was The Grauniad that had an article talking about third world politics and mentioned "..the Secretary General of the United Nations Buffy The Vampire Slayer..."

What happens, as I've been told, is that if a journalist is writing an article and isn't sure of a fact is that they put in a staggeringly obvious wrong name so that, if they forget to check and correct it themselves, it will be spotted by the editors. Someone apparently didn't realise that Buffy wasn't the UN Sec Gen.
zz9: I'm sorry I didn't see that when it happened. Priceless.
The picture is gone from the Times article.
However, the Curve article still has it there, and is a much better article IMHO.
There one obvious mistake at Curve...


Now, just as producers announced that the series will live on in Sarah Michelle Gellar’s absence, it looks like Kennedy (and the returning Dushku) could have their own lesboerotic encounters.


I wish!
Well, The Times got the Buffy lesbian kiss picture wrong.

On the other hand, they're printing facts about how the war's going in Iraq, describing the judicial and constitutional questions raised by holding an American citizen in jail without disclosing evidence against him, and pointing out problems inherent in the Administration's proposed budget.

On balance, I think they're ahead.
Yeah, the facts weren't wrong, just a slightly mismatched picture that most casual (none of those here!) fans wouldn't notice.

Well said, bookrats.
Mistakes can and will happen. But I think it's still not an incorrect thing to point out that a newspaper should get things right. Most of my life, whenever I happened to have a deeper knowledge of a certain topic, and then read an article about it in the paper, I'd find it riddled with inacuracies and misrepresentations if not outright mistakes. And 'it happens all the time' doesn't really excuse a thing for me.

And if it says 'Amber Benson' while it shows Iyari Limon, it's not 'slightly mismatched'. It's mismatched.

Obviously articles on wars and politics are more important, but for actors, any media exposure carries great weight, especially to the ones not exactly household names. And these things don't help.
Excuses for mistakes wash here less than with other papers. As ‘the paper of record’ The Times sets high standards for itself, which is a good thing, but then you also have to live up to it.

Ok it’s just a photo one might say, but you would have thought that particularly after their recent little ‘oops, Jayson Blair made all these stories up and we never checked’ slip-up, they double and treble check just about everything.

I have very little patience with these sorts of mistakes, because I used to work in directory publishing where accuracy is the hard, cold currency on which you are measured. You can publish a database with 50,000 entries and get one tiny thing wrong and it’s a really big deal – as it should be. Because the moment you do that, your clients automatically ask ‘what else is wrong, that I haven’t noticed’ and the seed of doubt is sown.
Mistakes can and will happen. But I think it's still not an incorrect thing to point out that a newspaper should get things right. Most of my life, whenever I happened to have a deeper knowledge of a certain topic, and then read an article about it in the paper, I'd find it riddled with inacuracies and misrepresentations if not outright mistakes. And 'it happens all the time' doesn't really excuse a thing for me.

I completely agree. Whenever there's an article on the local news about somewhere that's actually local (within 20 miles say) then I always notice loads of mistakes so it always leads me to assume that all the stories are equally inaccurate, I just don't notice because I don't know the facts/places intimately
miranda, you have nailed it. When I read something that's inaccurate about something I have detailed knowledge of, I begin, maybe even subconsciously, to question the validity of everything else that appears in that particular medium. Money quote from miranda: "accuracy is the hard, cold currency on which you are measured". The Times has been caught passing forged checks a lot lately.

Here's the correction they ran in this morning's edition:

"A picture in The Arts yesterday with a chart listing television shows that portray women kissing, to increase ratings during sweeps weeks, misidentified the actress being kissed by Alyson Hannigan in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." She was Iyari Limon; Amber Benson is another actress kissed by Ms. Hannigan in the series."

See what I mean when I referred to their corrections as "rather baroque"? It parses, but does anybody in 2005 (other than Times Corrections writers) speak or write that way?

[ edited by Chris inVirginia on 2005-02-11 16:19 ]
Chris in Virginia - at the risk of turning this into the mutual admiration society The Times has been caught passing forged checks a lot lately really made me smile.

(I nearly abbreviated your name to CiV, but that sounded like a creamy cleanser. Possibly we only have that particular brand in the UK. :)

On the subject of journalistic inaccuracy to downright lies, if anyone hasn’t yet seen the film ‘Shattered Glass’ about Stephen Glass who made up most of his stories when writing for the New Republic, I can very highly recommend it.

One of these films that really make you think. Psychologically fascinating (why do people fabricate stories?) and scary how easy it is to get away with it.
In case anybody thinks I'm making stuff up about the Times, here's a book review of "Hard News" by Seth Mnookin about a whole host of Times horror stories:

http://newyorkmetro.com/nymetro/arts/books/reviews/10329/

Regarding Stephen Glass, I remember an article he wrote for The New Republic about a particular political gathering in Washington that was so over the top (I have been to similar gatherings, albeit not that particular one) that I said to my wife, "This is nonsense...this never happened...somebody else would have seen and reported on it...this never happened at all."

And, of course, it never did.
And as we all know, it's only the NY Times and the New Republic that have ever been accused of typographical errors or of hiring writers that have been caught making stuff up . . .

Still see this particular discussion as something of a storm desperately trying to stir up its teacup. The Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass episodes are, indeed, worthy of serious discussion, but we're talking about a miscaptioned photograph. People in every single line of work make errors. It's not admirable, but it's not a conspiracy to deprive Amber of work opportunities.
No, SNT, it's not. Now they've replaced the whole picture and caption with one from "One Tree Hill". So less -verse exposure now.

Anya: It's like evolution but without the getting better part.
Nobody said it was, SNT, just that it was a shame that a very easily avoided mistake cost Amber some exposure in a widely read media outlet.
"...a storm desperately trying to stir up its teacup."

Hah! That's great, SNT!

No need to be snippy, Chris inVirginia, and I'm sure SNT fully understood the meaning.
And now they have included a correction for that incorrect caption at the bottom of page two.

I think they must have gotten an email or two...or two thousand.
Here's the correction they ran in this morning's edition:

"A picture in The Arts yesterday with a chart listing television shows that portray women kissing, to increase ratings during sweeps weeks, misidentified the actress being kissed by Alyson Hannigan in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." She was Iyari Limon; Amber Benson is another actress kissed by Ms. Hannigan in the series."


Good show.

That's what I like about The Times (and The Washington Post): (a) They work very, very hard to get their facts straight, and (b) when they inevitably make a mistake, they let everybody know.

Be it a minor one (whoops wrong lesbians!) or a major one (a falsified story). And the bigger the mistake, the brighter the spotlight they shine on themselves.
Not trying to be Snippy, Willowy, just clarifying that nobody (that I could tell) inferred a conspiracy of any sort.

bookrats, I can tell you firsthand that there are reporters and editors at the NY Times who are, to be polite, occasionally cavalier about the facts, and when confronted on some shoddy (again, being polite) reporting do everything possible *not* to issue a correction or clarification. Honestly, I've dealt with them a number of times on a professional level (I'm a media relations consultant), and they most assuredly do not "let everybody know" when they've made a mistake.

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