Lazy Journalism is a Major Pet Peeve

I just wrote a letter to the editor of the Malta Times, pillorying Fiona Galea Debono for some dodgy reporting. She wrote a profile of Maltese singer Ira Losco (she covers The Cure’s “Love Song” on her MySpace page), and introduced the subject of music piracy:

The DVD will be available from leading record stores and off her website… but, sadly, probably also from the marketplace at a fraction of the price.

Indeed, piracy is a scourge that even Ira has to contend with; it is destroying the industry and makes her blood boil.

Ira sells well and not enough fake CDs are printed to hurt her, so she need not devise a strategy to counteract piracy – in the same vein as international stars, who are basing their earnings on live performances. But it is still an irritating issue.

Do you get the feeling that Sony set up this interview, and told Ms. Debono (and/or Ms. Losco) to dedicate a few column inches to the piracy issue? Here’s my letter:

Dear Sir:

Ms. Debono’s profile of Ira Losco read like a thinly-veiled propaganda piece for the record industry. Despite music piracy not impacting Ms. Losco, Ms. Debono introduces the subject into her article and claims–without citing any evidence–that it’s “destroying the [music] industry”.

This simply isn’t true, and it’s lazy, shoddy journalism to claim otherwise. There are many reasons for the downturn of the music industry–declining radio listenership, free music via the web (YouTube and such), diverging audience tastes, the missed opportunity of legal file sharing, rising video game and DVD sales and so forth.

Besides, a recent independent study comissioned by Industry Canada indicated that file-sharing doesn’t put downward pressure on purchasing music. In fact, fans who download music tend to buy more.

According to Simon Wright, CEO of Virgin Entertainment Group in Rolling Stone magazine, “The record companies have created this situation themselves.”

Here’s a lesson for Ms. Debono: I’ve just built an argument based on considered supporting evidence. Perhaps she’ll try this approach the next time she wants to trot out hollow, deceptive claims

Every time a journalist (or a blogger or whoever) mindlessly parrots a corporate party line, it lessens the profession.


  1. HA. Nice first comment considering the post is about lazy journalism.

    Or is blogging-business-live-whatever an intentional joke?

  2. Mike: That’s a spam trackback. One of the many bastards who monitors the web for posts for certain keywords and automatically syndicates it into an auto-blog. I’ll delete it.

  3. whats worse is liking her cover and actually WANTING to buy it and not finding it on iTunes.

    guess i’ll go look for a torrent

  4. I wonder where the editors were when she wrote this piece. Weird.

    Completely unrelated- I just read a Canadian YA book called “A is for angst” by Barbara Haworth-Attard. The main character had two grandparents who were Maltese. I learned a few words- hamar, nannu, nanna, stupidu and possibly a few others that have escaped me. It’s the first book I recall reading with Maltese characters.

  5. I have this image of a windswept Malta rock, high above the ocean. There is a wood box, with dueling pistols on a red velvet background.

    Alas, the ammunition is shoot-protected.

  6. Darren, I’d say that the failure is on the part of the editors. That article is not only without supporting evidence, but is also written very poorly.

    Since they let it go to print, I’m guessing that they don’t have very high standards.

    I would be embarrassed to have an article of that quality put out for the public to read.

  7. Often it’s the editors who will put that silly stuff in, or crudely adjust a freelance article to mirror the publishers ‘party line.’ Still your byline.

  8. Failing to provide empirical evidence when writing a report/piece/paper should be banned in every profession, IMHO. I agree that it the piece went through, the editors let it slip.

  9. There seems to be a global conspiracy by the big business music industry to massively fail to adapt to their former customers’ preferences, all the while complaining loudly about piracy.

    As you note, when you actually try to buy this stuff online, it’s often not available. They’re creating pirates out of music lovers by not taking online sales seriously.

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