Caleb Hannan and the question of ethical journalism

singaporesoxfan

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The thing that gets me is Hannan's utter lack of soul searching in the article. He's so detached and blithe - when he's told revealing her transgender status is a hate crime, he doesn't ever question that Dr V could be right.

Hannan wrote the article around the time the Chelsea Manning story came out - surely he or his editors could have picked up something from the journalistic discussion of how to report on transgender people (including the pronouns to use). Even within the world of sportswriting, the Christine Daniels / Mike Penner story should have flagged to any editor how complicated transgender issues are. Heck, as I mentioned, Christina Kahrl writes for ESPN.com and has been a strong activist for transgender issues - did Hannan or his editors consult her as a resource for deeper understanding?

SI Rosenbaum takes a stab at editing the article without references to Dr V's transgender status.
http://si.arrr.net/device/2014/01/18/dr-v-an-edit-after-the-fact/
 

budcrew08

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http://shar.es/U5cDW an interesting look by Ed Sherman on the decision to reveal her trans identity.

And Blacken: I didn't mean to imply that her being transgender was a fabrication, obviously that's a very private and personal decision. What I mean is that when the reporter did his reporting, it was complicated by the fact that Dr. V was born Stephen Krol, and I think it's relevant in terms of telling this story of a person whose professional life seems to be built on some half-truths.
I don't agree with Hannan's depiction of discovering Dr. V was born a man as 'a chill up the spine' -- it's unnecessary and sensationalizing that part of it. But to have it in the piece as part of the web that was Dr. V is essential.
 

Blacken

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More than one person in this thread has not-meant-to-do-that and then did it immediately again. Funny, that.
 

MDJ

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JayMags71 said:
I agree with tmorgan. And, in furtherance of his point, it's as if Simmons' and Fierman's worst frat boy instincts led their editorial decisions. "Dr. V. Was a GUY? Who got SNIPPED?!? Gross, brah."
 
Hannan even uses the word "snipped" at one point in regards to the "fraud."
 
I was still clinging to these threads when Leland Frische came along and snipped them all.
 
He was probably pretty pleased with himself for that line. 
 
It's just a cold, cold article.  I don't think that Hannan is responsible for killing Dr. V, but his inability to empathize with her within his article, even after her suicide (!), is pretty telling. 
 
As for Simmons, I'm not expecting much from him considering how gender essentialist he is.
 

budcrew08

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More than one person in this thread has not-meant-to-do-that and then did it immediately again. Funny, that.


I never said in either post that her transgender-ness was a fraud or anything like that. You are inferring that is what I said.
 

Blacken

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budcrew08 said:
I never said in either post that her transgender-ness was a fraud or anything like that.
Oh you're not?
 
When he did the research, he figured out that nearly her entire story was fabricated, even down to who she is or was previously.
That isn't directly fuckin' saying it or anything. Nope nope nope. Nope.
 
it was complicated by the fact that Dr. V was born Stephen Krol, and I think it's relevant in terms of telling this story of a person whose professional life seems to be built on some half-truths.
And that isn't clearly equating "born Stephen Krol" with "half-truths". Not at all.

Bruv, I do not need to infer when you choose to imply. Or just state outright.
 

PBDWake

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budcrew08 said:
 But to have it in the piece as part of the web that was Dr. V is essential.
 
No, it's really not. There are pieces that are relevant (The MIT background, the defense job history), and there are pieces that do not. This is the latter. It's no more pertinent to the discussion than her skin color, and she has about the same level of control over it. People who seem to harp on it being "part of the web" seem to find this bizarre life of a nonexistent degree and phony work history, and look at her trans identity as another bizarre block in the castle. But it's not. It's not bizarre or fabricated or wrong or any or the other stigma that should be associated with the phony background. And by lumping her gender in with that group, you're making it something that's wrong, weird, or a lie. There's really no wiggle room there. 
 

budcrew08

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Well, I just want to say that I don't have anything against or feel that transgender is wrong or anything like that.
This thread has turned into an attack at my failed attempt at describing my points and I don't want that to happen.
 

MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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budcrew08 said:
http://shar.es/U5cDW an interesting look by Ed Sherman on the decision to reveal her trans identity.

And Blacken: I didn't mean to imply that her being transgender was a fabrication, obviously that's a very private and personal decision. What I mean is that when the reporter did his reporting, it was complicated by the fact that Dr. V was born Stephen Krol, and I think it's relevant in terms of telling this story of a person whose professional life seems to be built on some half-truths.
I don't agree with Hannan's depiction of discovering Dr. V was born a man as 'a chill up the spine' -- it's unnecessary and sensationalizing that part of it. But to have it in the piece as part of the web that was Dr. V is essential.
 
Her gender isn't a decision. It's who she is. Just like people don't decide to be homosexual. 
 

Reverend

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First off, I think it's pretty cool we have some university level (or beyond really) insight in the discussion of this issue here. I've said it before, but this may be the weirdest mainline sports board out there and I love it; I wouldn't be able to reconcile many of my ethical commitments with participating in most others. I also thank JazziBlaster for a wonderful post, both forthright and evenhanded on an issue of obvious importance to her.
 
I thought I might be able to flesh out a bit of the context around some of the points that have been made; CP was correct when he implied that this issue has a large divide between those familiar with it. The thing is, gender identity is a bit weird. And I don't mean transgender stuff, I mean even traditional identity issues. Think about the expression, "Be a man!" or "Man up!" What the fuck does that even mean? I mean, we all know what it means, but it implies that a man could somehow be not a man, or a non-man. At its base, the point is that there is uncertainty about gender issues and the context of such "discourse" is about trying to make that certain--hostility to men or women taking non-traditional roles is a function of this. And it's worth pointing out that there is no comparable version of "Woman up!"
 
More recently, much of society has become accepting of people just being whoever the fuck they want to be. That's where people are taking issue with some posters--and certainly the author of the article--conflating Dr. V's transgenderedness with being a half-truth. From some point of views, yes, she was not being straight (no pun intended*) about who she was, but many of us find that point of view antiquated and unnecessarily judgmental. From another point of view, she was being authentic to who she really was and understood herself to be--indeed, presenting herself as a man would be for her to misrepresent herself and live a lie. So the conflation of her gender identity and her truthfulness is highly problematic; suggesting the issue of transgenderedness is evidence in any manner way, shape or form of increased or decreased likelihood of a story being true or false is similarly problematic.
 
To be clear: she was not misrepresenting herself in terms of her gender. To think that she was doing so is to define her based on certain assumptions that are inconsistent with more contemporary ideas about self-determination and letting people be themselves. I mean, really, the point is that we shouldn't give a shit about what someone's gender "really is."
 
There is some truth to the issue raised, though, that people not exposed to this stuff or not informed, well, how are they to know? That's a hard question, and these things are moving really fast. I guess my gut would be to err on the side of "Who gives a shit?" and I mean that in a constructive way--start with the assumption that who a person "really is" isn't the right thing to be concerned with. But while I get how an individual might be sympathetic to someone not knowing all this or grasping it easily, this totally does not apply to a journalist such as Hannan; asking how a journalist might go about figuring something out is kinda a weird thing. And, I mean, it's his responsibility.
 
 
budcrew08 said:
I never said in either post that her transgender-ness was a fraud or anything like that. You are inferring that is what I said.
 
FWIW, I'm inferring it too, and I'm a pretty good reader. And I believe I'm properly inferring it because you associated the gender issue both with the statement that "nearly her entire story was fabricated" and "story of a person whose professional life seems to be built on some half-truths." As such, I find it to be a valid inference. 
 
If you don't think that the gender issue is relevant to those things, feel free to explain why you brought them up as related. But otherwise, as per what I posted above, it's seeing these things that is precisely related, and Syd did a very good job going over why it's unacceptable to include such as a part of the piece.
 

Reverend

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budcrew08 said:
Well, I just want to say that I don't have anything against or feel that transgender is wrong or anything like that.
This thread has turned into an attack at my failed attempt at describing my points and I don't want that to happen.
 
It's not that you have anything against them or think it's wrong. It's more a matter of base assumptions, some of which you may not have fully assessed. More than anything, I'm asking you to look a bit deeper at some of the basic assumptions about gender and reality and truthfulness and see that some of what you've assumed to be "true" or "real" need not necessarily be so; I hope you read my last post with that spirit.
 
Some of these issues are not about malice. But great harm can come through a lack of understanding, even in the absence of malice. Most evil wrought in the world is frankly pretty mundane.
 

ConigliarosPotential

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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.
 
I'm delighted to see someone else here is at least somewhat willing to give others benefit of the doubt - I was trying to give Hannan the benefit of the doubt in my initial post yesterday, and succeeded only in convincing some of you that I'm somehow a perpetrator of hate crimes. I'll freely cop to being ignorant (while at the same time trying to remedy that ignorance via Google), but sheesh...if PDBW is right in saying that as a society we do a terrible job of educating people about gender identity issues, I'd have hoped your instinctive response to a post like mine would be to try and educate rather than castigate. I mean, society has only just about come to properly understand and engage with homosexuality...and from what I've learned in the past 24 hours, the proportion of transgendered individuals in America (to the very rough extent that it can be measured at all) is nearer 1 in 60,000 or 70,000 than the 1 in 10 ratio commonly ascribed to the equivalent proportion of homosexuals. Do you think insulting the ignorant is really the best way of engaging with them, particularly when most of society is similarly ignorant?
 
Anyway, I have come around to believing that as a journalist and a website, Hannan and Grantland should have taken much more time to understand the gender issues involved before pursuing that line of reporting and publishing the words that were written - their professional obligation was to understand the nature of transgender identity and the potential ramifications of their reporting. But let me ask an honest question borne out of my own ignorance: suppose that instead of being transgender, Dr. V had actually pretended to be Caucasian even though both of her parents were African American. (Assume she was light-skinned and could easily pass as Caucasian.) As several of you have pointed out, Dr. V's transgender identity is just as much a part of her as her skin color - it's not a choice. Suppose Hannan does all of the same reporting and then gets to the point in the story where he discovers that Dr. V is black instead of white, and gets the same "chills" at his discovery. Would he be equally wrong to do so? Or is there a sense in which the African American trying to pass as Caucasian would be hiding her identity in a way that the post-op transexual isn't?
 

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ConigliarosPotential said:
 
I'm delighted to see someone else here is at least somewhat willing to give others benefit of the doubt - I was trying to give Hannan the benefit of the doubt in my initial post yesterday, and succeeded only in convincing some of you that I'm somehow a perpetrator of hate crimes. I'll freely cop to being ignorant (while at the same time trying to remedy that ignorance via Google), but sheesh...if PDBW is right in saying that as a society we do a terrible job of educating people about gender identity issues, I'd have hoped your instinctive response to a post like mine would be to try and educate rather than castigate. I mean, society has only just about come to properly understand and engage with homosexuality...and from what I've learned in the past 24 hours, the proportion of transgendered individuals in America (to the very rough extent that it can be measured at all) is nearer 1 in 60,000 or 70,000 than the 1 in 10 ratio commonly ascribed to the equivalent proportion of homosexuals. Do you think insulting the ignorant is really the best way of engaging with them, particularly when most of society is similarly ignorant?
 
Anyway, I have come around to believing that as a journalist and a website, Hannan and Grantland should have taken much more time to understand the gender issues involved before pursuing that line of reporting and publishing the words that were written - their professional obligation was to understand the nature of transgender identity and the potential ramifications of their reporting. But let me ask an honest question borne out of my own ignorance: suppose that instead of being transgender, Dr. V had actually pretended to be Caucasian even though both of her parents were African American. (Assume she was light-skinned and could easily pass as Caucasian.) As several of you have pointed out, Dr. V's transgender identity is just as much a part of her as her skin color - it's not a choice. Suppose Hannan does all of the same reporting and then gets to the point in the story where he discovers that Dr. V is black instead of white, and gets the same "chills" at his discovery. Would he be equally wrong to do so? Or is there a sense in which the African American trying to pass as Caucasian would be hiding her identity in a way that the post-op transexual isn't?
 
Nice post. And some thoughtful stuff here. Two basic responses:
 
1) To the end of your first paragraph, don't you know that the left eat their young? 
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gb_qHP7VaZE
 
2)  On the racial issue, the analogue to this issue would be: why do we demand that anyone identify or represent themselves as one race or another? This gets back to the "affirmative version" of "Who gives a shit?"
 
You might be interested to know that just that issue was raised in Plessy v. Ferguson in the infamous "separate but equal" ruling. Basically, Plessy was 1/8th black and looked white, so one of his claims was that the discrimination involved robbed him of his property interest in having an identity as being white, something that had real value. The opinion of the Court scoffed and basically said, how can you have a property interest in being white when you're black--it makes no sense!
 
Of course, this raises the question: why is there any interest in what race someone is in the first place? I mean, we know that there is, but we've also come to know that there shouldn't be, yeah?
 
So I have a two part final response to that: 1) do we think it makes sense for people to get chills when they're talking to someone with light skin they thought was white and somehow find out they have people of color in their heritage? (I mean, this happens a lot.); and 2) do we think that the author of the piece would, upon learning that the light skinned person had not disclosed that she had at least one African American parent, believe that piece of information was relevant to the credibility of that person?
 

budcrew08

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It's not that you have anything against them or think it's wrong. It's more a matter of base assumptions, some of which you may not have fully assessed. More than anything, I'm asking you to look a bit deeper at some of the basic assumptions about gender and reality and truthfulness and see that some of what you've assumed to be "true" or "real" need not necessarily be so; I hope you read my last post with that spirit.

Some of these issues are not about malice. But great harm can come through a lack of understanding, even in the absence of malice. Most evil wrought in the world is frankly pretty mundane.


I will admit that my knowledge or personal dealings with transgendered people are extremely limited, so perhaps you are right, it is likely a lack of understanding on my part. I just don't want anyone here to think that I am insensitive to that in general, I really am a tolerant person, no matter what.
 

singaporesoxfan

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Grantland has a mea culpa from Bill Simmons: http://grantland.com/features/the-dr-v-story-a-letter-from-the-editor/ and a piece from Christina Kahrl on "What Grantland Got Wrong": http://grantland.com/features/what-grantland-got-wrong/
 
Here's an excerpt from Kahrl's piece.
 
Because of this screw-up, we owe it to the ruin wrought in its wake to talk about the desperate lives that most transgender Americans lead and the adaptive strategies they have to come up with while trying to deal with the massive rates of under- and unemployment from which the trans community generally suffers. And we owe it to Essay Anne to understand how an attempt to escape those things became its own kind of trap, one Grantland had neither the right nor the responsibility to spring.
 

nattysez

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Haven't read the pieces yet, but the mere fact that Grantland hustled up and got Simmons to write something and had Kahrl write something is pretty impressive, particularly given that it's owned by the network with the most ineffectual ombudsmen on the planet.
 
 
Edit:  BTW, Chris Jones's stupidity on Twitter today around this piece only confirms my decision to ignore his existence a year or so ago when he spend a day complaining about not getting nominated for an award.  That's one downside of Twitter -- when someone you typically ignore does something stupid, it gets RT'd into your timeline so much that it's hard to avoid.
 
singaporesoxfan said:
The thing that gets me is Hannan's utter lack of soul searching in the article. He's so detached and blithe - when he's told revealing her transgender status is a hate crime, he doesn't ever question that Dr V could be right.

Hannan wrote the article around the time the Chelsea Manning story came out - surely he or his editors could have picked up something from the journalistic discussion of how to report on transgender people (including the pronouns to use). Even within the world of sportswriting, the Christine Daniels / Mike Penner story should have flagged to any editor how complicated transgender issues are. Heck, as I mentioned, Christina Kahrl writes for ESPN.com and has been a strong activist for transgender issues - did Hannan or his editors consult her as a resource for deeper understanding?

SI Rosenbaum takes a stab at editing the article without references to Dr V's transgender status.
http://si.arrr.net/device/2014/01/18/dr-v-an-edit-after-the-fact/
 
I read through that one, and there's still a part of it that remains that feels pretty shitty.
 
 
According to McCord, before building her putter Dr. V had gone back and reviewed all the patents associated with golf, eventually zeroing in on one filed in 1966 by Karsten Solheim. As the creator of Ping clubs, Solheim is the closest thing the game has to a lovable grandfather figure. He was an engineer at General Electric before becoming one of the world’s most famous club designers, and his greatest gift to the sport was his idea to shift the weight in a club’s face from the middle to its two poles. This innovation may sound simple, but at the time it was revolutionary enough to make Solheim one of the richest men in America and the inventor of one of the most copied club designs in history. In Dr. V’s estimation, however, Solheim was nothing but a hack. “The whole industry followed [that patent],” she told McCord. “You’re using pseudoscience from the ’50s in golf!”
As the video went on, McCord told the story of how he had arranged a meeting between Dr. V and an executive at TaylorMade, the most successful clubmaker in the world, whose products McCord also happened to endorse. The gist of that meeting: This previously unknown woman had marched up to one of the most powerful men in golf and told him that everything his company did was wrong. “She just hammered them on their designs,” McCord said. “Hammered them.”
 
In context, it feels like foreshadowing to make one conclude later on that "These uppity trannies are putting down the lovable grandfather of golf!" Kinda gross.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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singaporesoxfan said:
Grantland has a mea culpa from Bill Simmons: http://grantland.com/features/the-dr-v-story-a-letter-from-the-editor/ and a piece from Christina Kahrl on "What Grantland Got Wrong": http://grantland.com/features/what-grantland-got-wrong/
 
Here's an excerpt from Kahrl's piece.
 
 
Kahrl's piece is great; really a must-read.
 
Query - should this topic be broken out and moved to a separate thread or even to a different forum?  I just stumbled upon it and I would have been worse off if I never found it.
 
Finally, while Simmons did a better job of apologizing than most, there was one paragraph in his piece that speaks to the myopic nature of sports reporters.
 
Before we officially decided to post Caleb’s piece, we tried to stick as many trained eyeballs on it as possible. Somewhere between 13 and 15 people read the piece in all, including every senior editor but one, our two lead copy desk editors, our publisher and even ESPN.com’s editor-in-chief. All of them were blown away by the piece. Everyone thought we should run it. Ultimately, it was my call. So if you want to rip anyone involved in this process, please, direct your anger and your invective at me. Don’t blame Caleb or anyone that works for me. It’s my site and anything this significant is my call. Blame me. I didn’t ask the biggest and most important question before we ran it — that’s my fault and only my fault.
 
 
It is unfreakingbelievable that none of these people could have thought for one second to seek out people who might have a different POV. 
 

PBDWake

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ConigliarosPotential said:
 
I'm delighted to see someone else here is at least somewhat willing to give others benefit of the doubt - I was trying to give Hannan the benefit of the doubt in my initial post yesterday, and succeeded only in convincing some of you that I'm somehow a perpetrator of hate crimes. I'll freely cop to being ignorant (while at the same time trying to remedy that ignorance via Google), but sheesh...if PDBW is right in saying that as a society we do a terrible job of educating people about gender identity issues, I'd have hoped your instinctive response to a post like mine would be to try and educate rather than castigate. I mean, society has only just about come to properly understand and engage with homosexuality...and from what I've learned in the past 24 hours, the proportion of transgendered individuals in America (to the very rough extent that it can be measured at all) is nearer 1 in 60,000 or 70,000 than the 1 in 10 ratio commonly ascribed to the equivalent proportion of homosexuals. Do you think insulting the ignorant is really the best way of engaging with them, particularly when most of society is similarly ignorant?
 
I do believe some of the backlash was a bit aggressive, fwiw. It's hard to wade into a pool of unfamiliarity and manage to walk a fine line. But, to be blunt, you did fail. You may not realize it, but you led with an insult. People are going to be upset with that. If I were to say that I was tired of dealing with "homophobes, bigots, and ConigliarosPotential" with this argument, you'd be justifiably upset. Why? Because in that context, you're being put into an equal category with homophobes and bigots. And when you talk about fabrications and half truths with her degree, work history, and gender, you're equating her status as a trans to a doctored lie of equal weight to the others. If you've ever seen Clerks 2, you were basically Randall lobbing "porch monkey" around in front of a black family without understanding the real meaning. And for the record, I don't think you're prejudiced or a bigot. I also don't have the expectations of knowledge for you that I would expect from a mainstream journalist writing a piece where he plans to talk openly about someone being a trans. Which is why this piece was garbage, in the end.
 

Foulkey Reese

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It is unfreakingbelievable that none of these people could have thought for one second to seek out people who might have a different POV.
 
 
You could say that about a really huge chunk of things that get published on the internet. 
 

SydneySox

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Still that apology is selective, like much of the posting in this thread, focusing on TG itself rather than, as Rev referenced, the actual personal destruction that went on, gleefully, in the pursuit of glory behind the weak defence of journalism.

This isn't about fucking TG rights. It is about god damn ethical journalism. This hack destroyed a person, hung over her head for as he says 'months' the threat of an article, then still fucking published his shit when his victim ended her fucking life.

The only thing that changes for me with the 'apology' is the revelation several 'senior' Internet sports journalists reviewed it, led by lead - hack Simmons and thought it was ok, and as a result I'm fucking out on Grantland.
 

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wade boggs chicken dinner said:
 
Kahrl's piece is great; really a must-read.
 
Query - should this topic be broken out and moved to a separate thread or even to a different forum?  I just stumbled upon it and I would have been worse off if I never found it.
 
Finally, while Simmons did a better job of apologizing than most, there was one paragraph in his piece that speaks to the myopic nature of sports reporters.
 
 
It is unfreakingbelievable that none of these people could have thought for one second to seek out people who might have a different POV. 
 
It's interesting that everyone and their brother read the story before they published it--this suggest to me that they knew they were pushing some boundaries with the story.
 
I'm curious if anyone of the relatively young, cultural writers like Greenwald or Yoshida or Lambert read the piece--I would have assumed they would have picked up some of the problems with the piece.  It's oen thing for a sports site to blow this but it's more surprising to me that a pop culture site made errors like this.
 

Drocca

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Really smart posters on this website missed it. There were no negative tweets or reaction pieces for a long time. 
 
A lot of people missed it, not just the editors.
 
The important question is, why did they miss it?
 

Drocca

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One of the worst parts of Simmons' boilerplate mea culpa was that he admitted that they did not publish it immediately because there was no ending - he needed to keep reporting it.
 
And so he kept reporting it until, finally and luckily for the writer, Grantland, and us as readers, an ending surfaced.
 
 
To wit:
 
 
We first reached the “Is it worth it?” point with Caleb’s piece in September, after Caleb turned in a rollicking draft that included a number of twists and turns. The story had no ending because Dr. V wouldn’t talk to him anymore. We never seriously considered running his piece, at least in that version’s form.
Our decision: Sorry, Caleb, you need to keep reporting this one. It’s not there.
 
He was instructed to keep reporting it. There were twists and turns and he had all the information he needed on the science (what he agreed to write about), but the ending just wasn't there. Need to push forward.
 

NatetheGreat

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Simmons apology struck me as sincere (I liked that he referred to he and the others involved in this as "Transphobic dumbasses", which in this case they were), and the fact that they also published this piece of Christina Kahrl (http://grantland.com/features/what-grantland-got-wrong/) which quite thoroughly lays out the various serious fuckups involved in the piece makes me think he really does understand that nothing like this can ever happen again. The piece begins
 
"When you’re a writer, you want something you create to have a long life, to be something that readers will remember and revisit for years to come. If such was Caleb Hannan’s wish, it’s been granted, because his essay on “Dr. V and the magical putter” figures to be a permanent exhibit of what not to do, and how not to treat a fellow human being."
 
And really takes it from there. I don't see anything boilerplate about it, honestly. Its a transgender sports journalist with a unique take on all sides of the issue, honestly taking Grantland to the woodshed for how they fucked up on this. That Simmons published it is more important, I think, than anything he said in his own apology. I do think what happened here was fucked up, and I do think that represents a major failure on Simmons' part, but I do get the sense he honestly understands that at this point.
 

Kliq

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I read both Simmon's and Kahrl's piece before the the actual article, and it seems to me that things are being a little too overblown. Yes, Grantland was very shortsighted in it's editing process and the story should NOT have been run, at least in the incarnation that it was printed. But I think people are being a little too overzealous in their criticisim of Hannan and Grantland. Yes, some lines should have been taken out of the article, especially the "chill down the spine" line, that is incredibly inappropiate. However, I don't believe that Hannan was taking delight in destroying Dr. Vs life, and I don't believe that Simmons and Grantland kept pushing him to pursue this article into unreasonable means in hopes of creating a sensational story. I think that things were handled improrperly with the article, but I just can't believe that Simmons and Grantland were laughingly sociopathic while this was going on.
 

Blacken

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Falling on the grenade for the fuckhead writer is amazing. Yeah, they fucked up too, but this is a thirty-one year old journalist. I know literally dozens of college students who know better than to pull this shit.
 

riboflav

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FWIW, Caleb Hannan comes across as a really smug A-hole on his Twitter feed, if you read his tweets (and twitter conversations) from Jan. 15 just after the article came out.
 

Reverend

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Kliq said:
I read both Simmon's and Kahrl's piece before the the actual article, and it seems to me that things are being a little too overblown. Yes, Grantland was very shortsighted in it's editing process and the story should NOT have been run, at least in the incarnation that it was printed. But I think people are being a little too overzealous in their criticisim of Hannan and Grantland. Yes, some lines should have been taken out of the article, especially the "chill down the spine" line, that is incredibly inappropiate. However, I don't believe that Hannan was taking delight in destroying Dr. Vs life, and I don't believe that Simmons and Grantland kept pushing him to pursue this article into unreasonable means in hopes of creating a sensational story. I think that things were handled improrperly with the article, but I just can't believe that Simmons and Grantland were laughingly sociopathic while this was going on.
 
This is the epitome of creating a strawman. Nobody here is claiming these things. Nobody here has claimed they happened. As such, I guess, we all agree that those things would be mistaken, but don't agree with a conclusion that things are overblown based on said things, because those things are just made up by you.
 
The article was still wrong, however, even in the absence of these things which never happened and therefore are irrelevant to anything in, like, reality.
 

kenneycb

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Reverend said:
 
This is the epitome of creating a strawman. Nobody here is claiming these things. Nobody here has claimed they happened. As such, I guess, we all agree that those things would be mistaken, but don't agree with a conclusion that things are overblown based on said things, because those things are just made up by you.
 
The article was still wrong, however, even in the absence of these things which never happened and therefore are irrelevant to anything in, like, reality.
There is a world outside of SoSH where those things are being claimed.
 

Kliq

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Reverend said:
 
This is the epitome of creating a strawman. Nobody here is claiming these things. Nobody here has claimed they happened. As such, I guess, we all agree that those things would be mistaken, but don't agree with a conclusion that things are overblown based on said things, because those things are just made up by you.
 
The article was still wrong, however, even in the absence of these things which never happened and therefore are irrelevant to anything in, like, reality.
 
Maybe I'm misinterpeting what these posts were about, but we have Syd saying "the actual personal destruction that went on, gleefully, in the pursuit of glory behind the weak defence of journalism," which, to me at least, sounds like an indication that Grantland included parts of the story that didn't have to be in them, to create a story that was sensational enough to create headlines everywhere. I also saw MDJ make the arguement that what seemed like a throw away line, was really a "clever" shot devised by the author to mock Dr. V's transexuality.
 
If that was not what those users meant by their post, then I apologize, but that is what I was referring to.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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I think the Simmons apology was sincere.  I am not excusing the original piece or the editors decisions around the publishing of the article.   But Simmons' piece comes across, at least to me, as truly contrite.  
 

Dehere

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I think the Simmons piece is completely sincere, but it's also the kind of toothless apology that I think has become increasingly common where someone takes full responsibility for a mistake.....but it comes with no repercussions or concrete plans for change. It's like causing a multiple-car accident, getting out of your car and saying "God this is terrible. I take full responsibility for what I've done here. I will try to do better going forward", and then just getting back in your car and driving away.

The apology would carry more weight if, for example, it came with a plan for future investigative stories to be routed through the espn.com editorial process rather than being handled only by Grantland. Maybe that's a good idea and maybe it isn't but at least it's concrete action beyond just saying, oh, my bad.

The thing I have not been able to totally process in this, and many others have also brought this up, is that we're talking about a story about a putter. A piece of golf equipment is being sold with phony science? That's the story? It's hard to think of another story that raised serious questions of journalistic ethics where the stakes were so low. I don't understand why anybody ever thought this story was worth pursuing at all, and certainly not to the degree that Hannan chased it.
 

Domer

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The thing I have not been able to totally process in this, and many others have also brought this up, is that we're talking about a story about a putter. A piece of golf equipment is being sold with phony science? That's the story? It's hard to think of another story that raised serious questions of journalistic ethics where the stakes were so low. I don't understand why anybody ever thought this story was worth pursuing at all, and certainly not to the degree that Hannan chased it.


Dr. V used her false credentials to defraud Phil Kinney of $60,000. In your world that may classify as "low stakes," but to me it does not.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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Dehere said:
I think the Simmons piece is completely sincere, but it's also the kind of toothless apology that I think has become increasingly common where someone takes full responsibility for a mistake.....but it comes with no repercussions or concrete plans for change. It's like causing a multiple-car accident, getting out of your car and saying "God this is terrible. I take full responsibility for what I've done here. I will try to do better going forward", and then just getting back in your car and driving away.

The apology would carry more weight if, for example, it came with a plan for future investigative stories to be routed through the espn.com editorial process rather than being handled only by Grantland. Maybe that's a good idea and maybe it isn't but at least it's concrete action beyond just saying, oh, my bad.

The thing I have not been able to totally process in this, and many others have also brought this up, is that we're talking about a story about a putter. A piece of golf equipment is being sold with phony science? That's the story? It's hard to think of another story that raised serious questions of journalistic ethics where the stakes were so low. I don't understand why anybody ever thought this story was worth pursuing at all, and certainly not to the degree that Hannan chased it.
 
I think Simmons apology implies they will indeed do things differently going forward.  He published it today, a mere five days after the article was posted and about three days after the backlash occurred - I suspect they are figuring out how to change their process but aren't prepared to detail those changes yet.   However they felt that it was important to at least get the apology and explanation out there.
 
Grantland's editorial decisions leave a lot to be desired but I think your take that they are "simply driving away from the accident" is incorrect.  They fucked up on multiple levels, they are getting a ton of negative blowback and they are owning their mistake.   It doesn't change what happened but its hard for me to see them making the same mistake twice.
 

riboflav

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Domer said:
Dr. V used her false credentials to defraud Phil Kinney of $60,000. In your world that may classify as "low stakes," but to me it does not.
 
Why would the public care about some investor dude that no one had ever heard of before?
 
I'm really glad Mr. Hannan brought this to light.
 

kenneycb

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riboflav said:
 
Why would the public care about some investor dude that no one had ever heard of before?
 
I'm really glad Mr. Hannan brought this to light.
Because human interest stories about people defrauding others can often be interesting if done correctly. This was not done correctly.
 

luckiestman

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Has it been lost that Dr V seems mentally ill (and I don't mean depression)? Independent of the gender identity issue, Dr V did not seem well and was also doing some pretty heavy fraud. 
 
The gender identity issue is there, but if it wasn't and if Dr V killed herself because she was exposed as a fraud, would that be ok? Or should the author have thought  "Ok, this person is not well....what is my responsibility" If he did nothing, wouldn't he be helping a fraudster?
 
I have a hard time untangling this issue. 
 
Also, my mental illness take has nothing to do with the gender issue, it comes from the reading of the correspondence. Please don;t confuse me for saying "if someone thinks she is in the wrong body, she's crazy"
 
I can't be sure the suicide was due to the gender outing or the fraud revelation. I'm inclined to think the fraud as Dr V's personal life didn't seem that secretive. Purely speculation, but here is what I mean by this, you tell me "oh yeah, that grantland guy outed a person. she's married to pastor and has three adopted kids and just trying to live life" well, I say lynch the dude. But with Dr V, who exactly was grantland outing her to, seems like her family, former employers, girlfriend etc all knew the score. I'm not saying that makes it right. to repeat, I'm definitely not saying that it is right, what I'm trying to explain is why it reads to me that she was more traumatized by her professional fraud being exposed. 
 
One other thing, and this might be my bias from having dealt with some mentally interesting people in my own family. the "what youre going to do is a hate crime" line struck such a chord with me in terms of manipulation. Seemed like an attempt to get the story killed but for concern of the professional aspect not so much the gender issue, but that could be my bias coming through. 
 

singaporesoxfan

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Great post, Jazziblaster - should have said that earlier.

As for the putter story, there's definitely a story worth reporting there: the difficulties of breaking into the golf equipment industry; the need for golfers to believe there's some science behind their equipment, rather than just trying for themselves what really works; the obsessiveness of golfers seeking the holy grail of better clubs - etc etc. A dozen ways of telling a story in an interesting way without needing to out her.

There's been lots of good non-fiction about seemingly minor topics: Susan Orleans' "Orchid Fever" was the one that first came to mind.
 

riboflav

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kenneycb said:
Because human interest stories about people defrauding others can often be interesting if done correctly. This was not done correctly.
 
Apparently, as Simmons wrote, multiple editors thought there was nothing worth publishing on Grantland until the final act. Defrauding an investor was not enough to go to press. Let's stop pretending that is why Caleb Hannan and Bill Simmons posted this article.
 

luckiestman

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riboflav said:
 
Apparently, as Simmons wrote, multiple editors thought there was nothing worth publishing on Grantland until the final act. Defrauding an investor was not enough to go to press. Let's stop pretending that is why Caleb Hannan and Bill Simmons posted this article.
Isn't this 2 different issues? Would the article have run if you take out the gender issue but the suicide still happened? Would it have been ok, or just as heinous? 
 
I read the critiques as saying. Dr V killed herself because grantland exposed her birth gender, grantland is very bad. Are we sure that is what happened?
 
Or is the outrage just that it got mentioned in the story as a sort of fraud to add flavor to the other frauds?
 

riboflav

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luckiestman said:
Isn't this 2 different issues? Would the article have run if you take out the gender issue but the suicide still happened? Would it have been ok, or just as heinous? 
 
I read the critiques as saying. Dr V killed herself because grantland exposed her birth gender, grantland is very bad. Are we sure that is what happened?
 
Or is the outrage just that it got mentioned in the story as a sort of fraud to add flavor to the other frauds?
 
Are we sure of what? That Grantland is very bad? They certainly were with this article. IDK if she killed herself only because of this article and Hannan's attempts to out her. I do know that it is common for trans people to kill themselves for fear of being outed. I also know that there seems to have been very little soul searching on the part of Hannan and Grantland that they may have played some, even if small, role in her death. Even tonight, Simmons's apology seems more concerned with his failures as an editor and protecting his writer than with her suicide. I think this final point pisses off a lot of people.