Truth and Meaning in WSJ Article

My friend Glenn made a PDF of the Wall Street Journal article in which I appear ("Now on DVD: Holiday Cards"), so I was able to read it even though I’m not a WSJ subscriber. It’s an amusing overview of people who are sending DVDs with a bit of information on how to do it.

What I find interesting is how the writer, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, took some factual information and spun it in a way that isn’t quite true. When I was driving downtown this morning and my wife was reading the article out loud (I had only printed it out), we both got a chuckle from the second paragraph (emphasis mine):

Jeff Carlson, 36, a freelance graphic designer in Seattle, burned his own holiday DVD two years ago. "We wanted to do something really snazzy and different that would let whoever’s receiving it spend a little bit more time with what we sent, rather than skimming a letter and throwing it away," he explains.

But he estimates that he spent five hours picking photos and shooting fresh video footage, another 20 hours editing the videos, and about six hours burning the 20 discs he sent to family and friends. All for a five-minute DVD, which cost him $100 to produce. He hasn’t made another holiday DVD since.

Although technically correct, that last sentence makes it sound like the experience put me off from ever making a holiday DVD again. The truth is that last year we were out of the country at the end of the year, and this year I’ve been swamped with work. And, also, because we took a big vacation last year, we haven’t done much this year that would be interesting enough to put into a DVD.

I’m not upset about the wording. One of the things I wanted to convey was that it isn’t a quick and easy project (although I thought it would be; see the TidBITS article I wrote about the experience). But in one sentence Tan neatly summarized that idea while also implying motives that aren’t accurate.

The moral of the story? I’m in the freakin’ Wall Street Journal!

  1. Hard to say whether it was Tan or an editor elsewhere on the food chain. Most folks who write for newspapers and journals have turned in articles and approved final text, only to have things turn up on paper (or on the Web) in a somewhat different form. Sometimes the changes are purely for reasons of space and layout, but sometimes editors decide they want to “bring out” an angle.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: