Thursday, February 9, 2012

Inaccurate and Misleading: Celebrating The Great Michael Bates Backdown

Yes, Tulsa citizens, it's time once again to recall the Great Michael Bates Backdown, the time when our intrepid local blogger got in way, way over his head.

You may remember that Bates, in early 2009, used his "Cityscope" column in Urban Tulsa Weekly to blast the Tulsa World (or "Whirrled," as Bates likes to put it) for its circulation reporting and auditing practices.

It's all well and good to bash the local paper, if you like, but it's not such a good idea to say things that you don't know to be true. That sort of reporting just leads to trouble. 

Indeed, the World was not amused and threatened legal action. For its part, UTW quickly distanced itself from Bates' column.

Then, three years ago tomorrow, February 10, 2009, Bates wrote a very informative letter setting the record straight about his column. In it, Bates admitted that "my column contained numerous errors."

This letter was—and is—interesting reading. Bates owns up to to a whole bevy of reporting problems. But let's just quote some of the best lines from the Bates letter directly: 
My column suggests that the Tulsa World was not audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulation for nearly a decade. This is false.

My statement that the Tulsa World retained "consultants" to provide circulation information is inaccurate and misleading. 

My suggestion that the actual circulation numbers were somehow "concealed" from a time is incorrect.

My suggestion that Tulsa World circulation as 205 higher in 2005 than in 2006 was incorrect. 
Ouch! The letter goes on, but you get the idea.

In the end, Bates escaped the lawsuit. But he also provided fodder for his critics and helped create a new Tulsa holiday, the Great Bates Backdown, which we will be celebrating again tomorrow.



jdharp said...

The letter:

Anonymous said...

Not that I even read Bates' column-what I want to know is how to you logically call yourself Alternative Tulsa? You repeat the Tulsa World opinion almost word for word. You apparently stand up for the Tulsa World in all disputes.

I was looking for a blog that might reveal some more about the inner workings of the city but all I see here is knee jerk left wing junk. I am not looking for right wing reactionary comment that simply echoes Hannity and Limbaugh. I am merely looking for some common sense and balance. This site has none. Good luck in your un-read pursuit.

jdharp said...

Well, at least we know you read the Tulsa World.