Editors’ Note o’ the Day (Ryan Holiday Victory Edition)

From yesterday’s New York Times:

Editors’ Note

An article on April 19 about how to buy a record turntable quoted Ryan Holiday of New Orleans The reporter reached Mr. Holiday through a Web site that connects reporters to sources on various topics.

Mr. Holiday, who has written a book about media manipulation, now acknowledges that he lied to the Times reporter and to other journalists on a variety of subjects, fabricating responses to their online queries. (He says he does not own a turntable.)

For smart recountings of this textbook journalism scam, see 1) JimRomenesko.com:


Forbes.com posted a piece this morning with the headline, “How this guy lied his way into MSNBC, ABC News, New York Times and others.”

“This guy” is Ryan Holiday and he tells Romenesko readers:

I wanted to prove that HelpAReporterOutembodies so much that is wrong with online journalism. Reverse engineering stories from search times, not fact checking, not caring about self promotion etc. So I went out and tricked close to 2 dozen reporters — and was shocked to also find the NYTimes, Reuters, Today Show, everyone fell for it. In some cases, I didn’t even do it. I just had an assistant pretend to be me on the phone or over email. Not ONE person bothered to notice that I have a book out about media manipulation.

A bit stuntish? Yes but I felt like it was the only way anyone would pay attention.

Or 2) Poynter:

NY Times, CBS, others fix stories that featured fake expert Ryan Holiday

Corrections machines at various outlets got a workout after Ryan Holiday burned multiple news organizations by posing as an expert on various topics.

On Reuters, he became the poster child for “Generation Yikes.” On ABC News, he was one of a new breed of long-suffering insomniacs. At CBS, he made up an embarrassing office story, at MSNBC he pretended someone sneezed on him while working at Burger King. At Manitouboats.com, he offered helpful tips for winterizing your boat. The capstone came in the form of a New York Times piece on vinyl records — naturally, Holiday doesn’t collect vinyl records.

Pick up egg. Smash on face. Repeat.




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6 Responses to Editors’ Note o’ the Day (Ryan Holiday Victory Edition)

  1. Bill says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how “reporters” of all types try to sound so knowledgable and authoritative, but it turn out they know next-to-nothing about the subject and are so easily mislead, either by pranksters (as above), or people who have an agenda, or people who just don’t know what they heck they are talking about on technical matters.
    I’ve heard goofs that clearly indicate the reporter was amazingly ignorant yet sounding oh-so-smart–like the one who recently asked, quite seriously, why “they” (NASA or DoD, in this case) couldn’t just use a GPS unit to guide the latest satellite to Mars, why did they have to do these mid-course corrections? OMG, your ignorance is showing and you don’t even see it!
    So you have to ask yourself: if reporters from the NYTimes use these websites which connect to sources of unknown value, why do we need these reporters, anyway? What’s the value they add? Apparently, not much, seems to me.But their ego and shameless tone of presumed knowledgability (ummm…is that a word?) is always there. Amazing.

  2. Ah, postmodernist performance art meets journalism. Lovely!

  3. Media people with no clue report on politicians who are faking it to readers who have no idea – so what? Sounds like a perfect system.

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