Guess what. Courtney from the Austin Chronicle did email me questions about the article! Her initial email was sent to my published email address, which I can't respond to at work. I replied from work and said "Yes, you can ask me questions." Apparently, her reply to that email (just my work address) was sucked into the junk mail filter along with hundreds of other actual junk emails. Oops - sorry!

However, I still wish she'd followed up or emailed my published email address before publishing my comments.

Just for fun, here are her questions and my quick responses.

Date: Fri, 9 Apr 2004 22:00:19 -0700 (PDT)
From: courtney ryan fitzgerald
To: Chuck Olsen
Subject: Re: danah

Hi, Chuck.

Here are some questions. Thanks so much for answering

1. You were the one who took the pictures at the party? Why did you take pictures of these guys, if it was so obvious that they didn't belong there? Were you getting along with them?

Yes. Because I was taking pictures of everyone and having fun, and I was fairly intoxicated. I didn't talk to them much, but I did help one guy open a bottle of wine. Party co-host John Barlow said they were rappers performing at SXSW.

2. How could you tell these guys didn't belong when they arrived at the party?

Any party crashers would be obvious this late in the party, especially among a small group of bloggers who mostly knew each other. It was they way they looked (yes, partly because they were black, partly the way there were dressed, the dazed/tentative looks on their faces.) and behaved (like they were out of place and didn't know anybody.)

3. Why was it obvious to you that these were the perps?

I never said that. I didn't even know a crime had been committed until Danah emailed and said "CHUCK! You posted pictures of the guys that took my purse!"

4. Why do you think bloggers are a tight-knit mostly white mostly affluent bunch?

Blogging started in the tech sector, so it probably has something to do with that. My statement applies particularly to SXSW, which I don't think is as diverse as the blogosphere in general. There aren't definitive demographics of the blogosphere, so it's hard to say.

5. You're from Minnesota? Why were you at SXSW?

I'm an active blogger, and I'm producing a documentary about blogs called 'Blogumentary.'

6. You say you felt ashamed for your initial racist reaction to those guys. So you would call it racist? Why do you feel you reacted that way?

Yes. My initial reaction - we're talking a few seconds time - was to the appearance of these guys. As I mentioned above, this was a combination of their skin color, their dress, their manner. I think that a momentary reaction to skin color is racist, just like the reaction to what they're wearing or mannersisms is classist. I felt more aware of my reaction because it quickly changed and I was pouring them a drink - so I felt guilty for that initial reaction.

7. Why do you think danah's story about her stolen purse is so newsworthy? Purses get stolen every day. What makes this story juicier than the average one about petty thievery?

I'm not sure it is newsworthy. It's different because bloggers document their lives and take lots of pictures, something that is happening more in general due to camera phones. It would be more newsworthy if they were caught becuase of her blog post - 'networked crimefighting.'

8. Do you know how I can get in touch with George?

You already have. :-)

April 19, 2004 at 10:01 PM in Media, Race in the Blogosphere, Weblogs | Permalink


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Hope you don't mind - started a LiveJournal feed for this site at http://www.livejournal.com/~blogumentary365

Not sure how many other LJ people read you, but I thought it was worthwhile at least. Let me know if you want it removed.

Posted by: Ciri at Apr 19, 2004 11:49:58 PM

Awesome, thanks!

Posted by: Chuck at Apr 20, 2004 12:16:03 AM

Ok, this is long--sorry.

Recently, I've become engrossed in your "misquoting" saga, and I just wanted to say a couple of things that would've been too long to post in your comments; don't worry, it's good stuff. I know you already know it, and you've probably heard it all by now, but I just have to say it. Letting you know that I understand. :) So here it goes...

1) Courtney broke one of the most basic rules of journalistic writing by quoting and not providing "context" to your quote. It's in every journalism textbook! I can't find mine at the moment (probably in storage), but the point is that "quoting context" is something that's banged into your head day in and day out in journalism class--you must keep your quotes in context! I don't know how many times our professors said that (millions!) It's like a mantra: where you place the quote significantly alters the message you're sending. That's just common sense, and you've pointed that out very well.

2) Courtney did a MAJOR no-no when she didn't ask for your permission to use your words on Danah's site. Just because it's on "public domain" such as the internet doesn't matter. Online posting is much like gossip, hearsay--you just don't quote those because it's not necessarily reliable and it's a bit unethical. She must seek your permission. Although I don't know much about the online/internet/public domain writing rules, I know there are rules. Unfortunately, I studied news print, TV and radio media law issues; we didn't cover online, and I think it's because a lot of the ethics and rules aren't settled, still being established. But I have a buddy that knows media law, so I'll see what he knows and has to say.

3) Technically (if we want to get picky and technical), she's plagarizing. She pulled your quotes (and others) from an online source and didn't site the source. Yeah, she said Danah Boyd's online site, but she's supposed to provide the link to that site. Also, I'm shocked at the Editor's response. He should know better about the rules of proper sourcing and quoting. My editors would have been skeptical about publishing this story without knowing the rules and issues of online quoting. And my last point...

4) Her story was horrible. Seriously. If I had turned this story in, my editors and journalism professsors would have given me the evil eye. It reeks of bias and bad assumptions ("She didn't suffer much: a stolen cell phone and credit card charges at gas stations and Whataburger"--WTF!? Hello, I don't think we have citibank identity theft commercials for nothing...) I'm not seeing much objectivity.

So there's my rambling. I know it's nothing amazing, but I just wanted to lend my support to you, letting you know that I understand your points of view and your arguments; I agree with you. Race (as well as gender and religion) is complex, and probably always will be. Heck, I've taken 4 courses on race, gender and media and we barely skim the surface of those subjects in a semester! So, there you go. I enjoy reading your blog, and keep up the interesting, great, enlightening discussions. :)

Posted by: Stacy at Apr 20, 2004 12:39:06 PM

why is it relevant that you're from Minnesota? I wonder what she was digging for there...

Posted by: jonathan at Apr 20, 2004 7:22:33 PM