Utterly Frustrating


Below is a copy of the blog post which appears on the 100 Stories for Queensland website.

It is so frustrating and disappointing to have our chance at reaching an audience be undermined by an article littered with incorrect content. I have no idea how what I explained got so completely confused. And sadly, it is obviously confused when you read the text and then the quotations form me in the actual article (which isn’t on line – and for once – perhaps that’s a good thing!) Let’s not ask how real life stories can fall into different genres?!

It again challenges my ability to trust in journalists and makes me wish those who are interviewed and quoted had a chance to vet the article before it went to print.. before they printed a whole heap of things which aren’t true. It makes me question my ability to answer a question (though I at never said anything about the anthology having stories from flood survivors in it?!) and makes me even more weary for any future interviews. Bring on radio, or real time interviews.

What have I learnt from this:

  1. keep your answers simple
  2. write an awesome bloody press release that they can pull directly from – you can usually trust yourself to get the facts correct.

– – –

100 Stories for Queensland appears in today’s Weekend Courier-Mail (Saturday/Sunday 30th April-1st May) in an article entitled “A Flood of stories and all for a worthy cause”.

Several statements were made in the article misrepresenting exactly what the 100 Stories for Queensland anthology is. Below are quoted sections from the article, followed by a summation of the facts.

From the devastation of the January floods comes an uplifting collection of homespun tales, 100 Stories for Queensland, which tells the story of the heart-breaking experiences of those most affected.

Wrong! 100 Stories for Queensland is an anthology of flash fiction (ie. short stories under 1000 words). While there are homespun tales in there from authors living in Queensland, the stories were donated by writers from across the globe, from the UK to Israel, the USA to Malaysia, and across Australia.

There are no stories of heart-breaking flood experiences – this was never the intention of the project – in fact we rejected stories (even if they were uplifting) – if they were set in a flood. The stories are all fiction, in a range of genres, including romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction and paranormal.

Using Facebook and Twitter the books creator’s connected with flood-affected individuals across the state to deliver a collaboration of inspiring stories!

Wrong… on two counts!

  1. While people were connected with via Facebook and Twitter, we never invited people affected by the flood to write and share their story with us.
  2. Writers did not collaborate with each other to write the stories which appear in the anthology.

The truth behind

  1. The project plugged into the established networks created by the anthologies which preceded, 100 Stories for Haiti and 50 Stories for Pakistan, but also into the networks of individuals within and beyond the project. Writers, readers, editors, publishers, and anyone else who wanted to help, spread the invitation for writers to submit a piece of uplifting fiction to be considered for inclusion in the anthology. And while social media was definitely very important, the word was also spread via blog posts and more tradition means.
  2. This is collaboration on the scale beyond what most of those involved in the project, had ever been part of – with 40 people working together behind the scenes to read, vote, edit and proof read the stories which came through.

And yes… the stories are inspiring. They are also funny, though-provoking, poignant and uplifting.

“It was the first time we’d used (social networking) for something this big,” she (Jodi Cleghorn) said.

Wrong! Both 100 Stories for Haiti and 50 Stories for Pakistan, headed up by Greg McQueen relied solely on social networking for spreading the word about the project. Greg made full use of Twitter, Facebook and also YouTube to spread the word, during and after the project.

The truth behind

What we were using for the first time, on such a huge scale, was the SubMishMash online submission platform and management system, where the stories were submitted, read, voted on and which provided a communications hub for all participants.

The project also used closed Facebook groups as forums for the first time to great success.

Many of  the people helping with 100 Stories for Queensland, had helped with 100 Stories for Haiti and 50 Stories for Pakistan and knew how to use social networking for a project like this.

“It was all there (online) so people could read it and vote for it…”

Wrong! It wasn’t online for people to read and vote on. This wasn’t an online popularity poll for fiction.

The truth behind

It was available on the aforementioned SubMishMash, which is an online platform, where stories were read and voted on by a group of volunteer readers.

… all proceeds from the good will go to the Grantham Flood Support Fund.

Wrong! All proceeds from the sale of 100 Stories for Queensland go to the Premier’s Flood Appeal.

The truth behind

100 Stories for Queensland Project Administrator, Jodi Cleghorn, is also the editor of another anthology Nothing But Flowers (published by imprint Literary Mix Tapes). Proceeds from the sale from Nothing But Flowers go to the Grantham Flood Support Fund.

…Local writers are thrilled to have a platform to contribute to the relief effort.

Wrong! It is not just local writers who feel this way. All the writers involved feel this way – especially those from overseas who were not able to help out in a practical way as part of the Mud Army, Baked Relief, or to provide food, clothes, toiletries or emergency accomodation for people displaced by the flood.

100 Stories for Queensland is a community project which is both global and local in its scope.

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11 thoughts on “Utterly Frustrating

  1. It just goes to show how little research some journalists do nowadays, particularly in the fact-checking department. You should report this article to MediaWatch on the ABC. With so many errors of fact, particularly statements about funds going to the wrong fundraising appeals (which could cause great angst in that community), the paper should print a retraction or give you right of reply.

  2. Wow. Almost want to suggest a stern letter to the editor, except I know that’ll probably make things worse. I’ve always thought Courier-Mail was even worse journalism than our local Ballarat rag (also a Courier). Just horrible.

    In the face of appalling journalism, an excellent dot point press release with words of no more than one syllable is surely the only way to go. Keep it simple for the congenitally stupid. Sigh

  3. The Courier Mail article is disappointing not only because of the errors of fact but because the carelessness with which it was written is sadly indicative of a growing trend in our community for a lackadaisical approach to work, a lack of pride and of self respect.

    Jodi, you make a very good point regarding clarity of information. It is too easy for us to forget that which we understand fully and are intimate with can be new and confusing to others. This does not excuse the poor journalism displayed in the article but may go some way to preventing such a travesty in the future.

  4. Those following your work and contributing to it know what the Courier Mail wrote is wrong. Makes you wonder about stuff you don’t know about. Very unprofessional and downright lousy journalism in that article. Or maybe the writer thought it was a story submission and just clicked the wrong key.

  5. I studied some journalism subjects at QUT back in the 1990s and our lecturer was most adamant that journalists were the ultimate tellers of truth. Facts, facts, facts. No room nor call for fiction in newswriting, he would say. Obviously the author of that article has not listened to you properly, Jodi. How else could we explain the monumental errors that have been allowed to go to print here?

  6. I’ve been interviewed regarding political protests and such enough to know that that advice, keep answers simple is so true. They love to misquote you especially if they have an agenda going the other way.

  7. Those mistakes are amazing. I like the suggestion about a press release. It makes me want to rush out and write one before them get it wrong (though I have nothing to announce at the moment. They probably don’t care I became an Amazon Vine Voice or my fifth graders are graduating. Nevertheless…)

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