Caleb Hannan and the question of ethical journalism

Drocca

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Today I saw a Grantland article being promoted on longreads and so I read it. It is Caleb Hannah's article on the designer/inventor of a new golf putter. I would link to it but I have not been able to copy/paste to SoSH for some time for some reason.
 
Anyway, I am sort of still processing my emotions from this article and I suppose the fact that I have emotions from the article is proof of some form of greatness or, at the very least, accomplishment. About halfway through the article, maybe two-thirds, I became very annoyed with the writer for not adhering to the wishes of the designer/inventor. The designer/inventor was contacted, unsolicited, by the author of the story. The rest of this I will spoiler.
 
Ok, apparently spoiler doesn't work for me either. Regardless, I would like to discuss this piece because, as of this moment, I find it to be one of the most brazenly irresponsible pieces of journalism (and entirely self-serving) I have ever encountered. I am unsure of my opinion on this and would like to talk it out.
 
I split this - smas
 

Drocca

darrell foster wallace
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I think a more appropriate piece of journalism would have ended the article with something like:
 
Dr. V's scientific credentials are in doubt which may or may not put the science behind the design itself in doubt as well. We are hesitant, for good reason, to accept science from non-authoritative figures and Dr. V seems aware of this by marketing herself as an MIT-trained and Department of Defense bred scientist. The author wishes to relay that this information is not only unverifiable, but in complete contrast with other details about her life either shared with others or publically available. The brilliant new putter designed by an amateur scientist apparently is not the story that Dr. V wishes to sell. In respecting, Dr. V's wishes that this story be about the science of the club and not the scientist, I will not engage in further speculation as to Dr. V's motives. I have, however, brought the design and science to Dr. _____, an actual physicist from _______, and s/he had this to say....
 

Drocca

darrell foster wallace
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He was reporting on the science, not the scientist. This was the deal made in the beginning and his acceptance of that deal was the barrier to writing anything at all. When he tried to go around their deal, he was reminded of it by his subject. He then abandoned the science altogether to out the designer.
 
It doesn't seem ethical.
 

JimBoSox9

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I think the writer fulfilled his obligations (and then some) by publishing posthumously, to be honest.  The 'agreement' was broken by the subject when the background she provided for color (after he agreed to write primarily about the product) turned out to be a house of cards.  
 

johnmd20

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The Allented Mr Ripley said:
The fact that she wasn't a scientist became the story and blew up their agreement. Any good reporter would have followed the same path.
 
Agreed. At the 3/4 mark, I was horrified. At the end, I wasn't at all. Dr. V didn't want the story to be about the scientist because the scientist's story was a complete fabrication. That is certainly not the writer's fault and it wasn't his fault for being a good reporter and checking out her story. If he didn't, he would have been guilty of reporting a story that was almost all made up, regardless of how good or lousy the putter is.
 

Drocca

darrell foster wallace
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What purpose did it serve to out the designer? Why couldn't he have made it clear that Dr. V's credentials were bullshit but that he wanted to focus on the club?
 
I agree that he has a better story by doing what he did. Maybe that's all that matters. I'm having a difficult time arguing for, or even fully articulating, my position so it's probably the case that I'm out of my element here.
 

shlincoln

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And if he doesn't what's the difference between him and all the journalists who didn't dig deeper into the Te'o story, and were roundly criticized because of it.
 

JimBoSox9

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Drocca said:
What purpose did it serve to out the designer? Why couldn't he have made it clear that Dr. V's credentials were bullshit but that he wanted to focus on the club?
 
I agree that he has a better story by doing what he did. Maybe that's all that matters. I'm having a difficult time arguing for, or even fully articulating, my position so it's probably the case that I'm out of my element here.
 
It sounds like more than anything your position is "this was a private person minding their biz until this writer called out of the blue, and she said OK but write about the putter not me, and yadda yadda yadda it ended up sort of ruining her life, and that really just doesn't smell right somehow".  That's fine, but I think you're seeing that other posters don't have the sympathy for Dr. V that you do.  Once she lied on the record to him, why would he feel bound by his agreement and why isn't the whole thing sort of seen as a result of her own actions?  
 

Drocca

darrell foster wallace
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That's a good question, Rip. But I don't think so. I think my issue with the story is, for lack of any other way to say this and as terrible for my 'position' as it may be, the quality of the reporting. While I agree that less detail as to Dr. V's particular bullshit would have made a worse story, I do think that the story could have been very good and he could have served the story justice by letting the reader know that Dr. V's credentials were bullshit and then having a scientist take a look at the design.
 

Reverend

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The Allented Mr Ripley said:
The fact that she wasn't a scientist became the story and blew up their agreement. Any good reporter would have followed the same path.
 
The Allented Mr Ripley said:
Honest (and not pointed) question: is your discomfort with this because it's an article for Grantland, as opposed to, say, The Washington Post?
 
Something about a land war in Asia.
 

inJacobyWeTrust

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The Allented Mr Ripley said:
I think the thrust of the story is that the success of golf equipment is in its psychological properties, so the science is really secondary.
 
I'm not sure exactly what prompted the writer to begin researching this piece (I don't really buy the "happened to be watching an infomercial" story), but "success of golf equipment is psychological" certainly comes across as one of the article's stronger points. I agree that the science was definitely not the primary focus.
 
It seems like in doing honest research for the piece he stumbled onto the "this woman is a fraud" path and followed it to its tragic conclusion.  I can't fault the author for pursuing what became a pretty compelling story.
 
I think it's a fabulous, gutwrenching article and almost a textbook case of good first-person journalism - i.e., how to properly insert yourself as a character into a story which isn't fundamentally about you in any way. And certainly the way Hannan tells the story, he was thisclose to publishing the simple story about the putter and the mad scientist behind it when Dr. V's responses to his requests for simple background checks led him down new paths which led to new revelations. I can't see any ethical breaches here at all.
 
And FWIW, this is exactly the sort of long-form journalism that Grantland seemed to promise much more of at the start of its existence than it has lately - kudos to the site for taking a really solid move back in that direction.
 

The Social Chair

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Caleb Hannah and the Grantland editors are really being taken to the woodshed today over that piece for it's disturbing lack of empathy, reporting her suicide as a footnote, and for outing her as transgender without her permission. I don't agree with all of the criticisms but one that sticks out for me is the "sent a chill up my spine" line when he discovers she is trans. That seems insensitive at best and hateful at worst.
 

SydneySox

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Drocca said:
What purpose did it serve to out the designer? Why couldn't he have made it clear that Dr. V's credentials were bullshit but that he wanted to focus on the club?
 
I agree that he has a better story by doing what he did. Maybe that's all that matters. I'm having a difficult time arguing for, or even fully articulating, my position so it's probably the case that I'm out of my element here.
 
Just read this. Link is here, btw: http://grantland.com/features/a-mysterious-physicist-golf-club-dr-v/
 
Completely agree with you, Drocca. This was a mean, technically correct attention grab by a petty person whose intial story - new golf putter challenges long held beliefs - would have been clickable by golf people and a few others but whose discovery of lies about the creators background was so exciting. For everything I disliked about it the thing I disliked the most was that in reading it and talking about it here I was helping further promote this hack's work. If I'd read this and there wasn't an ongoing discussion I'd not have posted but the interesting conversation here between you and Rip was enough to make me want to just add support to you.
 
The sentence that really broke it for me was this one below, right in the conclusion. I knew 'Dr V' committed suicide because you referenced it but if reading blind, you wouldn't know that part yet:
 
"Although there were times when I had been genuinely thrilled with the revelation that Dr. V’s official narrative didn’t line up with reality, there was nothing satisfying about where the story had ended up."
 
 
It's the crux of the article. Hack journalist is writing ho-hum procedural and stumbles on something he knows is more juicy. Genuinely thrilled. As in, 'how fucking awesome is this, I've caught this freak in the act!'.
 
In mainstream journalism, suicide and self-harm is considered off-limits and in some parts is actually illegal unless it passes what's known as the public interest test, in that it's news to report on the suicide of a celebrity but you never write about people who jump off buildings or throw themselves into the path of trains etc, and it's usually pretty closely stuck to. This is one of those cases where it's worth examining whether this was really a public interest case for one, considering no one had ever heard of this person until Hannan made them a public entity, and that's very debatable because it's usually an issue with non actual celebrity suicides, so fine whatever. Of course, it's very rare for any of the big big suicides to be described in such minute detail as Hannan does here. Bag on head, suicide note, first-responder speculation presented in quotes as if that is in any fucking way relevant... it's ghoulish.
 
But for me the real kicker is in the great reveal. JimBoSox rationalised that part above by saying it was published posthumously but that doesn't make any sense. This story was getting published anyway. Hannan had no way of knowing (besides the fact the person he was about to destroy was clearly mentally vulnerable) 'Dr V' was about to end her life so the idea he held on to some obligatory timeline is logically defunct. So there's that, but it's worse for me because through the way Hannan clumsily continues to insert himself throughout the article allied to that quote above, and the one where he describes tackling how to write about the death by showing absolutely zero remorse, sympathy or tact and bringing it back to his own journalistic troubles and insulting the dead person one more time by saying:
 
Writing a eulogy for a person who by all accounts despised you is an odd experience.
 
 
It's tough to be a gangster journalist. So hard to write about a person who killed themself when they didn't like you. I'm actually pretty fucking confident Hannan not only did not feel any remorse for 'Dr V', I'd be willing to bet he was actually, in some way, 'Genuinely thrilled' she was dead. It was the perfect way to end his hackjob.
 
Two things - one, I'm pretty personally sickened by the way Hannan treated 'Dr V's' personal life choice as (based on what's written) a TG person. There are story merits to that which go towards the background being fake, but Hannan revels in it:
"She filed a “petition for change of name” on October 14, 2003, in the Pierce County, Washington, District Court. She scratched out an unsuccessful first attempt at writing “Essay” on that petition. She wrote “OLD NAME DOES NOT MATCH ME” where the court paperwork asked why she no longer wanted to be known as Stephen Krol. She worked as general manager at Trax Bar and Grill, an LGBT bar in Kent, Washington. She was the subject of three separate harassment claims from her time there, including one from a male coworker who said she made “inappropriate comments about her breasts and genitalia.” "
 
"Before I told him about her past, he told me that because of her height and vivid red hair, it was hard to miss the “pretty woman walking toward me in a miniskirt.”)"
 
"Maybe the most surprising thing about my conversation with Kinney was how calmly he took the news that the woman he thought was an aerospace engineer had once been a man, and a mechanic."
 
 
The first quote - completely unneccesary and only in the story to really ram that shit home... this dude is fucked up, what a freak! The second quote - completely fucking irrelevant aside. Continues to really drive home this point about how duplicitous Dr V is personally. If left out of the story, the only thing that changes is we are presented with less of a reason to mistrust Dr V for living a lie, as seen by Hannan. The third quote - remove the word 'a man' and it reads .... an aerospace engineer had once been a mechanic. That is relevant and serves Hannan's purported reason for writing this story. The TG bit, rammed home repeatedly, is just one more shot by the journalist to really show the basic lying nature of his subject.
 
There is a story here, of course - Rip says there is a story about diligence and story and he's right. But that's 'right' on a base level. This article is galling to me and I think to Drocca because it has a story and doesn't tell it basically. It instead becomes viciously personal and ghoulishly delights in the ending. One final bit on this little essay that might well be the part which makes me people upset but here's this:
 
One of the quotes I was able to type down during our last conversation was this: “You have no idea what I have done and what I can do.” It’s not all that menacing when transcribed, but her tone made it clear she believed she could harm me. Yet despite all that, the main emotion I felt while reading her desperate, last-ditch email was sadness.
 
 
Sadness. Genuine, empathy, huh? Sadness. For a person and couple who had called to plead with Hannan to leave them alone. He writes that he recorded everything they said but it was so hard, like a wind tunnel. I mean, we really are confronted by these words to see Dr V and her partner as crazy, aggressive assholes. But there's not enough sadness in Hannan to leave Dr V alone. Nope, he's got a thrilling story about a man who became a woman and lied about a background to a whole bunch of people.
 
Dr V was clearly fucked up. Hannan himself reported - in ghoulish detail, right down to the suicide note - on her previous suicide attempt. For months he spoke with her, recording her side of conversations, all of them, and writing up the juiciest things she said to him in this article totally devoid of context and secure in the knowledge not a single thing he said would ever be presented in a similar fashion or on such a platform as Grantland who draw a fair amount of audience whose views on the LGBTQI community would be, I think, unsympathetic. And the best fucking thing he could come up with when it came to presenting a fucking threat was you have no idea what I have done and what I can do.
 
Hannan's a hack. He clearly has no actual idea about what he has done and what the power of journalism can do to people, especially the self-harming depressed people.
 
Dr V was going to kill herself, maybe, regardless of this article. But the months of mental anguish this journalist subjected her to absolutely played a part in increasing those self harm thoughts and I think the least Hannan could have done was to bury this fucking hackjob in the open grave in his backyard where he keeps his ethics.
 

singaporesoxfan

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I'm with Syd, the Hannan article made my blood boil. I think it shows a tremendous lack of understanding of transsexuality on Hannan's part to present the discovery of her gender change as yet another example of deceit, and he hardly considers how much outing that part of her - a horribly unethical thing for any journalist to do - could have been the catalyst for her suicide.

Josh Levin wrote a good piece on the Hannan debate here: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/culturebox/2014/01/essay_anne_vanderbilt_dr_v_s_magical_putter_grantland_s_expos_of_a_trans.html
 

NatetheGreat

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Yeah, I think unveling the fact that her academic credentials were fraudulent was totally valid, but outing a transgender person with a clear desire to keep that aspect of their life private is not cool. The fact that it may have contribuited to her suicide, and he makes that part of the story as well, is pretty fucked up.
 

CaptainLaddie

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It's not just "not cool", it's despicable.  I'm a big fan of Grantland, but this kind of shit infuriates me.
 
That one of their writers could have directly impacted her decision to commit suicide is the kind of thing that makes me hope Simmons and the brass at ESPN rethink this story being in their archive and this writer being in their employ.  I suspect the ESPN ombudsman will have something to say about this.
 

MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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From what I've seen on Twitter, Simmons and Barnwell are rallying around this guy, which, if true, is really not okay.

Whoever greenlit this piece and let it go forward showed very bad judgment. The writer bears a lot of blame, but seems young and inexperienced.

An editor should have put a stop to it or radically revised it.

It shows a shocking lack of empathy.
 

JBill

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What have you seen on twitter? I don't think anyone from Grantland has commented on the piece since the avalanche of criticism. One of the editors of the piece is Dan Fierman, Grantland's second in command on the editorial side, so to speak, after Simmons. He has plenty of experience. I hope they discuss more the steps and thought process they went through in deciding to publish. As for the writer, he's a freelancer.

The piece was getting praised left and right and from all corners for about a day. It was like a few people were all of a sudden "wait, this is actually terrible." I've even seen a few journos who initially praised it backtrack furiously.
 

Drocca

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Syd, that was really well written. I could not put my problem with the piece in words, it was just a feeling and I didn't want to fake conviction I didn't have. I read the article and immediately posted here, but I also posted my thoughts as a comment to the article on Grantland's facebook page and shared the link on my own page. I took my comment and the link down a few minutes later because the discussion with Rip, even though it was brief, was good enough for me. At that time no tweets, articles or comments on the article were negative. I knew they were coming and I didn't want to read those either or debate or watch any of it play out.
 

Reverend

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JBill said:
What have you seen on twitter? I don't think anyone from Grantland has commented on the piece since the avalanche of criticism. One of the editors of the piece is Dan Fierman, Grantland's second in command on the editorial side, so to speak, after Simmons. He has plenty of experience. I hope they discuss more the steps and thought process they went through in deciding to publish. As for the writer, he's a freelancer.

The piece was getting praised left and right and from all corners for about a day. It was like a few people were all of a sudden "wait, this is actually terrible." I've even seen a few journos who initially praised it backtrack furiously.
 
I think a lot of people read something like that and think, "Wow, that's interesting and original--I don't think I've ever read anything quite like that and it really makes me think." As Syd points out in his most excellent post, though, there are reasons for that--important ethical reasons.
 
I dunno...I'm still inclined to stand by my praise for the piece. To the extent that the article is insensitive about Dr. V's gender identity, the context of that insensitivity is crucial: this is a person whose *entire* identity was a sham. Why must we assume that Dr. V committed suicide solely because his gender identity had been compromised? Should journalists never write about con artists of any kind for fear that they too might commit suicide when their real lives are exposed? Hannan must have felt as though he'd started peeling a potato, only discover he was actually peeling an onion - and he kept peeling and peeling, only to discover the complete absence of any kind of solid core. In that context, why wouldn't the discovery that Dr. V wasn't even a woman - on top of all the other lies she'd told you - send chills up your spine?
 
Some of you are criticizing the line, "Although there were times when I had been genuinely thrilled..." - but in a first-person story, wouldn't you want the journalist to be open about his feelings as a journalist? (Surely you would have suspected he'd had those feelings anyway regardless of whether he'd written about them, no?) I suppose you could argue that this story didn't need to be written in the first person, but without establishing the progression from late-night infomercial to personal discovery of the putter's seemingly magical powers to the desire to dig deeper into what seemed like a heartwarmingly positive story, I'm not sure what the article's hook would be. In any event, I don't see any justification for pejorative terms like "hack journalist" and "gangster journalist"; sometimes proper journalism leads the author down unexpected paths and compels further exploration. I mean, didn't the most celebrated piece of American journalism in history - Woodward and Bernstein's coverage of the Watergate scandal - start with a similiarly nondescript hook and follow it down numerous rabbit holes to an unexpected and shocking conclusion? This wasn't a paparazzi patrol gone haywire.
 
Bottom line: for this piece to have disgusted you, I think you have to be pretty jaded about the current state of journalism to begin with. Such cynicism may be justified - and to be honest, I should point out that one of the biggest reasons I abandoned my own career in sports journalism was that I didn't have the heart to piss off my subjects by asking tough questions and writing probing prose to please my readers at their expense. But there is a middle ground between puff pieces and deliberately antagnostic reporting, and if Hannan made mistakes in the way he sought after and reported the truth, they seem quite venial to me.
 
[Edit: grammar]
 

Blacken

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ConigliarosPotential said:
In that context, why wouldn't the discovery that Dr. V wasn't even a woman - on top of all the other lies she'd told you - send chills up your spine?
That transphobic shits feel comfortable saying this sort of embarrassing thing so blandly and openly is the underlying problem that fueled this.

"Wasn't even a woman"? "Send chills up your spine"? What the fuck is wrong with you?
 
By the by, in the last sentence of my first paragraph in the above post, I don't mean to imply that changing one's gender involves "lying" in some way. All I meant to say was that Hannan seemed to have discovered that literally nothing he initially knew about Dr. V was quite what it seemed; that conclusion alone, independent of the transgender element involved, would have been enough to send chills up my own spine.
 

Blacken

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There is no way that you were not intending to imply exactly that. And you did it again, intentionally. Nobody who doesn't think that would treat transgender identity as "not what it seemed".

You're a real winner.
 
Last post from me for the moment: I have just gone and reread the conclusion of Josh Levin's article at Slate, and then read the post to which he linked here:
 
http://beautifulterriblestrange.tumblr.com/post/73685185431/dr-v-caleb-hannan-and-grantland
 
I'm trying to form my own conclusions here both about what is appropriate and what should be expected, and both from journalists like Hannan and plebes like myself, about transgender identity. Clearly, I don't know all of the answers myself, and the post at that link is very eye-opening to me. But if all of that poster's conclusions are true and Hannan has clearly written things that he shouldn't have written...given the lack of mainstream understanding about transgender identity, how much slack should one be willing to cut him? (Or me, for that matter?) Where are we as a society on the learning curve of understanding transgender identity in the same way that, say, we collectively understand homosexuality identity?
 

Alcohol&Overcalls

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ConigliarosPotential said:
Last post from me for the moment: I have just gone and reread the conclusion of Josh Levin's article at Slate, and then read the post to which he linked here:
 
http://beautifulterriblestrange.tumblr.com/post/73685185431/dr-v-caleb-hannan-and-grantland
 
I'm trying to form my own conclusions here both about what is appropriate and what should be expected, and both from journalists like Hannan and plebes like myself, about transgender identity. Clearly, I don't know all of the answers myself, and the post at that link is very eye-opening to me. But if all of that poster's conclusions are true and Hannan has clearly written things that he shouldn't have written...given the lack of mainstream understanding about transgender identity, how much slack should one be willing to cut him? (Or me, for that matter?) Where are we as a society on the learning curve of understanding transgender identity in the same way that, say, we collectively understand homosexuality identity?
 
Wait, is your defense basically "Grandpa grew up in the '30s, it was different then"?  AKA the "brazil nuts" defense?
 

singaporesoxfan

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Hannan might be completely insensitive to transgender identity issues - that's not unheard of. But the fact that he didn't seem to feel conflicted at the possibility that his writing contributed to a suicide, and the fact that the article was published without any red flags being raised says something bad about both Hannan's introspection as a journalist and Grantland's editorial process. I would think that a website which has i) a parent site (ESPN.com) that hires transgender writers and ii) editors who must have at least heard about the issues over the coverage of Chelsea Manning's gender identity should have had more respect for how to cover this story.
 
Here's some of the parts of the Society of Professional Journalists' code of ethics that I thought applied to this story:
 
 
Minimize Harm
Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.

Journalists should:
— Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
...
— Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
— Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.
— Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
...
 

tmorgan

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It seemed to me like this was much more of an editorial issue than a reporting issue. The subject is someone running a company, trying to break through in the golf world through a combination of the authority of faked credentials and legitimate celebrity/pro connections. Hannan should have been given guidance from his editors about how to handle the difference between her gender identity and the construction of faked credentials in order to advance her career. The story itself should not have turned on that point, and outing was not integral to the reporting. If the story were the same, but he had only said where she was from and that her birth name was Krol, it wouldn't have changed the fundamental thing he was investigating. If he were more sensitive in his interactions and mentioned that he was only interested in the professional issues and was not trying to out her, would that have made a difference? I'm not sure it would have changed the fact that Dr. V killed herself, but he doesn't even seem aware that there would is a difference in outing her as trans and revealing her faked credentials. This seems like where this happening at an organization that is inexperienced in this type of reporting and fact checking really hurt Grantland. If this were reported by Josh Levin, the New Yorker or the Washington Post I doubt this issue would have been so completely overlooked.
 

JazziBlaster

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ConigliarosPotential said:
Last post from me for the moment: I have just gone and reread the conclusion of Josh Levin's article at Slate, and then read the post to which he linked here:
 
http://beautifulterriblestrange.tumblr.com/post/73685185431/dr-v-caleb-hannan-and-grantland
 
I'm trying to form my own conclusions here both about what is appropriate and what should be expected, and both from journalists like Hannan and plebes like myself, about transgender identity. Clearly, I don't know all of the answers myself, and the post at that link is very eye-opening to me. But if all of that poster's conclusions are true and Hannan has clearly written things that he shouldn't have written...given the lack of mainstream understanding about transgender identity, how much slack should one be willing to cut him? (Or me, for that matter?) Where are we as a society on the learning curve of understanding transgender identity in the same way that, say, we collectively understand homosexuality identity?
 
I'm a little late to this but I just have to respond.
 
Maybe I can make this less abstract for you.  I am a real life trans woman.  So whatever it is that you and the "mainstream" don't understand about transgender identity I would be happy to clarify.
 
The bottom line on this is that trans people go through a lot, and in the end all we want is the same dignity afforded to everybody else.   The lengths we go to in order to comfortably live our lives are extreme, and outing us is the most vicious and irresponsible thing a person can possibly do.  It can ruin relationships, ruin careers, it can even kill us.  It seems entirely possible that outing this woman led directly to her death.  Even if it doesn't have those consequences, it is still absolutely humiliating for us.  We're trying to lead normal lives, and outing us takes that away from us.
 
The realization that Dr. V was trans supposedly gave the writer a chill down his spine, as though transgender women are monsters from horror films.  And the intimation that I'm a monster sends a chill down my spine.
 
There was a perfectly fine article here to be written about a mysterious scientist who may or may not have revolutionized putting, and the scientist turns out to be a fraud.  But that's the thing, her credentials were a fraud and that's a story.  Her gender wasn't a fraud, and that didn't need to be included to make the story.  It would still have been a damaging article for her, surely, but since it seems as though the golf club actually works for some people it might not have even ruined her.  Turning her into a fratboy punchline like this article does would have absolutely ruined her, and reduced her to a laughingstock.  I'm not at all surprised that she would rather die than face that.
 
So how much slack should we be willing to cut him for what was, at best, irresponsible and malicious journalism?  I'm thinking not very much.
 

Fred not Lynn

Dick Button Jr.
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Jul 13, 2005
4,756
Alberta
I have read through this thread, ams can't seem to find a link to the actual article. I am sure it is there, and I simply missed it - but can someone repost?
 

budcrew08

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 30, 2007
5,930
upstate NY
I stink at giving long answers, but I have very little qualms, as a sports editor myself, about that story. The transgender piece makes sense to have in the story... When he did the research, he figured out that nearly her entire story was fabricated, even down to who she is or was previously.
 

Blacken

Robespierre in a Cape
SoSH Member
Jul 24, 2007
12,144
That you think expressed gender identity is fabrication is why you and people like you are unqualified to go anywhere near that part of the situation.
 

Fred not Lynn

Dick Button Jr.
SoSH Member
Jul 13, 2005
4,756
Alberta
I am going to Google it eventually anyway. That's the problem with provacative, it stirs debate...and debate stirs commerce, whether you want to support the shit-disturbers or not.
 

PBDWake

Member
SoSH Member
May 1, 2008
3,615
Peabody, MA
I'm going to try as hard as I can to be as judgment free on the posters here.
 
Coming from a person who has trans friends, much of this article is appalling to me. From a strictly journalistic view, the fact that she was trans is irrelevant. At best, I would be arguing against the "It's another lie in her fabricated personality!" crowd, but a) that portrays a terrible understanding of gender identity issues, and b) is about as irrelevant to the initial premise as "She told the officer that she didn't actually know she was speeding when she did!". Most intro to journalistic ethics classes will teach that lifestyle and personal details not pertinent to the story should not be, and are not, considered fair game.At worst... or even at its most likely, the author is a gossip monger and braggart. I think he found this out in his research and was so shocked, he had to share it, in a very high school "you won't believe what I just found out!" sort of way.
 
For an even more basic journalistic critique... It's lazy reporting on that, as well. He found out she was born with a penis, and left it there. You'd think, with how much legwork he'd done to that point, he'd have done some basic research on people living as trans, and understood why calling her gender a lie is tactless and wrong, at best. Hell, he didn't even ask the obvious question. "Why would she present herself as a woman in a sport historically dominated by old, white men that have been, at times, chauvinistic and racist in their tendencies? What is the advantage there?". And if he did do any research, and decided to go ahead with this anyways, he's more of a scumbag than I thought.
 
On the subject of Gender Identity in general... Being an optimist, I'm going to believe that nobody here is a bigot. I think that as a society, we do a terrible job of education when it comes to gender identity issues. Most people grow up being taught that penis=male and vagina=female. Gender expression is completely independent from what plumbing you're born. To all the people who are going to continue to type up a response defending the "He's a man, baby!" part of this article, I beg you to google some background on it before you post.