It is 2018; so why does North America continue to ignore female media critics?

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It was about 2007 when I was interviewed for a magazine profile, and the editor of the magazine had been surprised at my credentials back then and wondered why I wasn’t promoted more by other outlets and institutions. I did receive an award from my alma mater McMaster University for my career achievements, but he noted it should have been much more than that, and he was right.

I would have if I was Alexander Kitty.

Fast forward to 2018, and I can tell you that the situation is no better for women.

How so?

What has been on everyone’s mind since the 2016 US election?

Fake news.

You would think my 2005 book would suddenly be in demand, all things considered.

Not a chance.

I may be blunt, eccentric, and suffer no fools, but my work is sound and solid. I do my research, and I am thorough.

So why hasn’t Don’t Believe It! been at least mentioned by writers and journalists discussing fake news?

Because I am Writing While Female.

The book has been mentioned in other textbooks and academic papers. If you want to understand the history of fake news, that book will tell you everything you need to know.

The misogyny in the North American press is beyond control, despite #MeToo.

However, not every place is as disgracefully silent as North America.

This is an academic paper from the University of Łodź in Poland that is a discussion of fake news from 2018:

The creation of fake news is nothing new. Alexandra Kitty in her book Don’t Believe It! How Lies Become News (2005) discusses many such cases.

Why is there no mention in North America? Either it is ignorance…or sexism. There is no third option.

Even before then, in 2005, the Irish Times had this passage in an article of book recommendations from various individuals, and this is one:

Don’t Believe It – How Lies Become News (Disinformation Co, £9.99) by Alexandra Kitty should be compulsory for anyone in the media business.

Yes, it should have been because that was the reason I wrote it: so that journalists and other news producers got a clue; so we wouldn’t have fake news being indistinguishable from real news.

But as the book came from a woman, those in the business just ignored it because they are convinced they know everything, and any criticism — real or perceived — levelled at them requires stewing or a temper tantrum…and the requisite demonizing and blaming of the person who is telling them the reality and truth of a situation.

In 2005, I had two media books come out within exactly one month of each other (Don’t Believe It! and OutFoxed). That is not a common feat, and these books, when they were reviewed or noticed, were well received; so I wasn’t churning out dreck. Only one academic paper actually bothered to notice this accomplishment in their footnote:

The publication date for Alexandra Kitty’s Outfoxed was April 15, 2005, nine months after the documentary. One month earlier (March 15, 2005), she had published a book on the broader topic of news and its manipulation.

This is sexism at its absolute worst. Men can be stoned out of their heads, rude, boorish, weird, uninformed, arrogant, and clueless…but they will be seen as visionaries who can see into the future.

Women, on the other hand, are ghettoized. We may get a patronizing pat on the head every once in a while that is supposed to make us girls feel validated enough to just run along all happy and out of the way of the men, but we have to waste precious focus and resources on willfully distracting battles that men do not.

Even now, this article is about how the New York Times’ CEO says print will be dead in ten years…while I say the entire industry of journalism is already dead and buried.

I outline it all in When Journalism was a Thing.

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As well as on the site.

I am not the only woman to be ignored this way. It’s not just an Alexandra Kitty Problem. It’s a Woman Problem.

We don’t allow for women to be taken as seriously as men.

And it is time that rancid cowardice is confronted once and for all.

Journalism’s confirmation bias in the Powerball Jane Doe saga: their narratives never consider alternative explanations.

The Toronto Star has a silly column on the Delaware woman who won over a half billion dollars just doing the slacker thing of buying a lottery ticket and now she is suing to remain anonymous.

The Star’s take is very instructive: they are taking an anonymous say-so that she is afraid for her safety — and then the reporter lists some cases where there was trouble after a lottery win.

The article has a severe case of a confirmation bias: only looking at evidence (or in this case, unrelated anecdotes) that seems to confirm the theory, not the ones refuting it.

Why is the Star taking an anonymous woman’s word as the gospel truth? The press in Canada has been in a tizzy for anonymous women making #MeToo claims — but then turn around and not question an anonymous claim on another matter?

Journalists use anonymous sources all the time (I never did use anonymous as a reporter until I was asked to write the book OutFoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s was on journalism. I was given two thick binders of interview transcripts from the movie in their entirety, but while the vast majority were on the record, three former Fox News employees were anonymous — and no one bothered to tell me who they were. Well, I am not an old school journalist for nothing — just based on the content of the interviews, I managed to find out the identities of all three within ten minutes. Usually, people would think having already completed interview transcripts would make things easier, but I had to verify everything independently, and that was a nightmare, especially given the tight timeframe I was given. Since I could be confident with what I had, I could use all three anonymous interviews for the book; otherwise, I would have had to skip any one that I could not pin down either the identity or the content of the interview. I literally slept one hour a day in the five months I had to complete the project); so the waffling stance on such sources is interesting.

But in this case, the reporter chooses to gloss over any other theory why someone who just won a massive amount of money would be behaving in such an obstinate manner.

First of all, if you do not want to have your name and face plastered all over the place after winning that much money, don’t play the lottery offering that kind of money. You knew what you signed up for, and no one owes you a dime. If you cannot even smile for the camera and let people know who you are because that is too much for you — don’t play. No one put a gun to your head.

Second, and more importantly, there are at least three very important reasons why gaming institutions insist on transparency:

  1. The “winner” may have stolen the ticket. In Canada, we have had convenience store workers steal tickets from customers and then claim them as their own, but it can just as easily be a personal support worker, maid, or anyone else who could swipe a ticket, and then pretend it was theirs.
  2. We have had spouses try to take the entire jackpot and leave out their partner who would be legally entitled to half. We have even had people steal a group ticket of which they were a member, and then try to have a child or spouse claim the entire jackpot. I would be very suspicious of someone wanting anonymity for that reason.
  3. Unless we have a name and a face, for all we know, the winner is bogus and the lottery is a scam. We have has insider rigging; it would not be a stretch to have phantom winners. Lottery money doesn’t come from thin air — it is the pooling of all the buyers who have a right to know where and to whom their money is going.

So there was no shortage of other scenarios the columnist could have used. Why would someone go to the trouble of a legal suit to keep her identity hidden? That is the central question here. I do not buy the innocent explanation, for example. Your life is going to radically change when you are suddenly given that kind of money, but you knew that when you bought your ticket.

I believe there are a myriad of reasons why you would go to those extreme measures to keep people from knowing you won the lottery, and this is a story ripe for local journalists to investigate. She may be hiding from someone because she is afraid of them — or afraid of being forced to hand over some of those winnings to them. Bringing up volunteerism and community is often a deflection from stating the real reason for wanting to be anonymous.

As a journalist, every time someone gave me the church and apple pie sob story, a little digging showed me something far more realistic, and almost always held the key to what the real story was. I am not saying she stole a ticket, but if I were a reporter covering this story, I would be hitting the pavement to confirm or refute my instincts with facts.

I wouldn’t be writing a column giving an unverified yarn credence. I would want to know the why of this story, and then dig from there.

OutFoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s war on journalism

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The director of 2004’s smash hit documentary Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalismteams with journalist Alexandra Kitty in an even more detailed and updated examination of how media empires, led by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, have been running a “race to the bottom” in television news. They examine media consolidation by focusing on the Fox News Channel: How did Fox gain prominence? How did the Fox News Channel gain audiences and influence public debate? How does Fox report reality? Is the network merely interpreting events or is it pushing propaganda? Who are the main players and how do they treat their friends and enemies? Why should readers care about how Fox takes liberties with its facts?

Each chapter blends interviews from Greenwald’s documentary, transcripts from Fox programs, and other research pertaining to Fox News not only to illustrate the Fox “mentality,” but also to show the factual, ethical and structural problems with the news channel. Interviews and transcripts are analyzed to give readers a strong sense of what Fox is actually telling its audiences.