Thursday, June 23, 2016
New Yorker Skewers True Crime Addict and the Culture of Internet Sleuths
True Crime Addict was just reviewed by The New Yorker and, ugh.
What should have been a review of a book instead became an indictment of Internet sleuthing - and open sourced reporting - by the mainstream media. In a weird, condescending tone, writer Michelle Dean, says, early on, that the book "embodies every problem that arises when online obsessives are infected with delusions of detective grandeur."
In fact, there's no actual review of the writing itself. Was it well written? Did it pull you in? Did the characters pop?
But most disappointing, because of the legacy of The New Yorker itself, is that the piece is riddled with errors that would easily be fixed with a phone call or simple wikipedia search. For instance, she talks about how Maura disappeared 45 minutes after her crash in Haverhill.
In the end, the piece stands as an example of the lazy reporting that I warn about in the book. It's the reason why we need open-sourced reporting, the reason why we need Internet sleuths in the first place. She reached out to the Murray family for comment. But she didn't extend the same courtesy to me. If she had, I would have least helped her correct some basic facts.
She ends suggesting Maura walked into the woods and died. Which is weird, too, given the chapters in the book devoted to the large searches by hundreds of volunteers and New Hampshire Fish & Game.
It's clear to me she didn't really read the book. And that's a shame because I think she would have liked it. After all, the book serves to explain everything that is bad about obsessing over crime writing - which is the point of her "review" too.
But it's clear Michelle Dean came into with a white-knight agenda. It's her thing, as you can read about in this article from the Washington Post in response to the hit piece she wrote on another writer who dared say controversial things. A Gawker writer contributing to The New Yorker? What strange times we live in.