The cheerleader story went from "a girl said some things she accidentally got tricked into saying, which was her mistake, but get over it" to "some guy is quite possibly the worst journalist of all time" really quickly. It still seems really fishy to me.
A bunch of people said that Krissy Cox's interview had a mythical transcript somewhere, and that when we saw it, we'd realize how she was being misunderstood. I didn't believe them, because I've never conducted an interview that ended with my interviewee in possession of a neatly typed up transcript. And even if it did, I assumed that transcript would contain what I expected: Cox being really positive, but being pressured into saying some things she later wishes she hadn't said.
NBN went ahead and uncovered that transcript, and let's just say that if everything there is true... let's start by listing the things Jake Zucker did something overwhelmingly wrong.
- Zucker conducted an email/gchat interview with somebody. This is obviously a horrible idea. You only are supposed to use email interviews for legit journalism stuff if it's like a last minute thing and you just need a quick comment, and then you have to say "such-and-such a person said by email." The reasons why are obvious: it gives the subject time to craft their comment to their liking. You're supposed to get what they say, not what they wish they said. But he never disclosed this.
- If the transcript at NBN is the extent of what happened, well, Zucker completely fabricated a large amount of the things published in the article. Like, where nothing she said resembles anything she purportedly said in the article.
- Like, not something close to what she said in the article. He didn't take out an "um" or subtract a word to make a sentence grammatical. He didn't even do something which would already be way wrong, like adding an adjective to make the subject sound smarter and punchier. He just made stuff up.
- Also, he can't spell "during". That's weird too, but, in the grand scheme of things, the least weird thing here.
If this is the extent of the story, Zucker doesn't deserve to work in journalism again (and probably should face some sort of legal punishment for his actions) and Cox should get a personal apology from everybody who joined that Facebook group. I probably should apologize for the thing I wrote the other day in which I tried to be balanced, but still, in retrospect, was overwhelmingly hard on Cox. (heh. hard on cox.)
But I don't know, this whole thing seems, like, weird. I probably shouldn't comment, because I haven't decided to get involved with this story on a journalistic front - finals, man! and there's real football to think about - but a lot of things here just seem to be off.
First off, if this is it, this guy seems overwhelmingly stupid. Either for someone trying to be a real journalist, or for a Stephen Glass wannabe.
Why, if he plans on making everything up, does he insist on doing an interview using the easiest possible method with which it can be verified that you made it all up, not to mention the one generally considered the worst to use for interviewing somebody? Why does he bother tracking down some girl, having someone take a photo of her in full cheerleading garb, interviewing her, and then not including anything discussed in that interview?
Why does the transcript of this interview take FIVE WHOLE DAYS to get out? The paper shipped on Thursday. BHGP published the post that was linked to in the Facebook group on Friday. This girl was getting murdered on the internet Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and the transcript gets out Tuesday at 6:30 while the transcript was just sitting there the entire time, after 10% of your student body has joined a facebook group that eventually got deleted because the things said in it were so harmful? Meanwhile, random people popped up on various sites (including this one) saying that "they had seen the transcript", but nobody ever thought to post it anywhere. And why is the transcript coming from the Northwestern Athletics Department? (editors note: thinking about this later - it sort of makes sense. my bad on probably overanalyzing the situation.)
NBN provided more answers, but, that just gives rise to more questions. Maybe we know the whole story, and maybe we don't. Either way, I'm going to once again move on to football. When somebody interested in this comes up with more on this, I'll talk about it, but let's go back to putting this in the past.