Here's a mistake so stupid it has become a whole column.
I failed at trying to make something up. That's hard
to get your head around, I know, but it is true.
In what I
viewed at the time as an explosion of cleverness, I announced I was
inventing a word to cover some egregious media situations. It wasn't
in the dictionary so I figured, clear sailing!
I thought for
a while about what to call the people who create and spread rumors
For some reason, the word "info-slut" settled on me
and I decided that would be what I would use. Then I concluded there
was some sexist connotation to the use of the word "slut," so I
decided against it.
I settled instead on
My big mistake, the one for which I am saying I
am sorry to the blogosphere, the newspaper-o-sphere and all other
o'spheres too, was to say I was inventing the word. I was not. I was
displaying my ignorance. I am not certain when and where the word
was invented, but it has been in use for some time.
shown up in a lot of ways in a lot of places. One "info-pimp" takes
you to a Russian language Web site where, I think, it might be
providing information about actual pimps.
There are lots of
other examples too.
Short version: Someone else made it up
long ago, not necessarily to serve the purpose I attached to it, but
made it up anyhow.
Here is why this is a big deal.
column was aimed at building an argument for old mainstream media
and the way it works. It puts news here. It puts opinion there. It
checks on this and it checks on that. It's what separates the
Tribune, I argued, from other places, layers of people checking on
But they didn't check the Internet for the term
"info-pimp" and neither did I or we all would have known I was not
inventing anything. I am not blaming this on anyone but me. Writers
who blame editors for not "catching" mistakes are just trying to
pass the buck.
People who write commentary have a lot of flex
room to use language, but sometimes it's like a high-wire act
working without a net.
I think I plummeted like the Flying
Wallendas and the fault was mine.
What is really irritating
about this is that I know better. You don't say you are claiming
invention of something that already exists. A little rewording would
have fixed the problem. So what is on display here is not
deviousness, dishonesty or any other sleight of hand.
stupidity and laziness, and for that, I am sorry.
I want to
extend my first apology to the Tribune. Then I want to apologize to
the readers of the column and finally, I want to apologize to the
Thanks for catching this blunder. It was a blogger
call last week that drew my attention to the problem.
really is our worst media sin in many ways.