Why people get mad at the media, part 6, “Grungy” or “not grungy,” the Guardian presents some candid photos of its offices and building
Well, to continue this “grungy” saga, Mary Kuntz, an assistant managing editor at Business Week/McGraw Hill, called me from the splendorous McGraw Hill building in midtown Manhattan.
She was, it turned out, the designated editor and stonewaller to deal with my complaints that a cover story in the Aug. l4 edition of Business Week had made three major errors in the first three lines of the lead story. The first errors: the article referred to the "grungy offices offices of the SF Weekly," our chain competitor, when the offices were those of the Guardian. The second error: our offices are not "grungy," as you can see by the candid photos below.
She repeated what others down the masthead had told me before: that the magazine had indeed corrected what she called “the factual error” (the one misidentifying our offices as the offices of our competitor). But she said the magazine would not correct or remove the word “grungy” because the use of that adjective was a matter of opinion.
How, I asked again (see my earlier blog items), could she and BW/MH say that our offices were “grungy” when the reporters on the article never came into our offices and could not specify what was “grungy” about the Guardian, our offices, or our building, which we own? Did BW/MH just intentionally want to annoy me further and make the situation worse? She was adamant, as if she were upholding some major journalistic principle and the institutional honor and structural integrity of BW/MH. If so, what in the world was the principle she was fighting for over the use of one word: "grungy?" She wouldn't say. More: she would not send or fax me the company’s retraction and corrections or reader response policy. She kept saying, we only correct factual mistakes, write us a letter, this is our corrections policy. And so the “grungy offices” phrase remains in the print and online versions of the article for the duration and my simple request to get a full correction ended up only making an "atrocious" mistake even more "atrocious," to use the phrase of the reporter in confessing her original "factual" mistake to me.
I realize all of this might get tedious but there is a serious point here: this incident illustrates the kind of corporate arrogance and stonewalling that make people mad at the media. All BW/MH had to do was to say in effect, sorry, we made a mistake, we will correct it, we regret the error. And not jack me around for l0 days over a phony charge that they could not back up or explain. (Summary report coming on the company's stonewalling policy on corrections.)
Note the pictures below, taken by Guardian co-founder and co-publisher Jean Dibble. From top left: the side of our three story building, known as the Guardian Building, at l35 Mississippi St., at the bottom of Potrero Hill in San Francisco; the front of our building; our lobby; our reception desk; our conference room; the stairs in the middle of our advertising offices on the first floor; Jean Dibble's office, and the alternative view of San Francisco from Potrero Hill from our rooftop.
Grungy or not grungy? That is the pressing issue of the day. I'm ready for a Potrero Hill martini. B3