Alchemy

This is either very clever, or evidence of serial incompetence.

The Associated Press (a noun used for lack of a name of one person) writes, “Maria has been placed in temporary care since last week after authorities raided a Roma settlement in central Greece and later discovered that girl was not the child of the couple she was living were not her parents.”

That confounding string of words that looks like a sentence is repeated by the Christian Science Monitor (10/25), Huffington Post (10/25, 10:16 AM), Los Angeles Times (7:53 AM), Time, Yahoo and countless other new outlets.

And Youtube.

Since no author is identified, here is the name of the “Senior Vice President – Executive Editor” of the AP: Kathleen Carroll. Perhaps she signed-off on the article.

The gobledygook is also on the website of the AP, itself (10:16 AM ET). It occurs on pages in the domain hosted2.ap.org, which have newspapers’ names at the top of each.

However, an item with some identical sentences as the first item, on hosted.ap.org, states: “Maria has been placed in temporary care since last week after authorities raided a Roma settlement in central Greece and later discovered that girl was not the child of a Greek Roma couple she was living with.” (10:40 AM EDT)

Astoundingly (as it comes after the nonsense in the first article) the next word string is “The couple has been arrested, and who have been charged for allegedly abducting Maria and document fraud.”

That story contains a by-line, and its gibberish is repeated by the Washington Post, Fox News, CBS and the Times of Mumbai. There are no corrections (or “correctives“) associated with those items on the AP’s correction page.

The news agency also maintains a story, dated June, 2012, that simultaneously identifies (impossibly so) both Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as the U.S. Senate majority leader.

record of American history by the Senate indicates that only Senator Reid is Majority Leader of that body. The Onion identifies Senator McConnell as “Senate Minority Leader” (emphasis added).

Meanwhile, another inaccurate AP story, on Yahoo, falsely gives Senator McConnell the title, “Senate Majority Leader.” Unlike gibberish or a misspelled name, that is an error of fact.

Zombie myths

In April, using his News Corporation Fox Business thingy, Rupert Murdoch published, “According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 60% of employers check applicants’ credit scores for at least some of their job candidates as part of their hiring process.”

Fox Business website before correction

Fox Business website before correction

That is nonsense, of course, and somebody changed the Fox story.  The new sentence, substituting reports for scores, is “According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 60% of employers check  applicants’ credit reports for at least some of their job candidates as part of their hiring process.”

[Rookie reporters and journalism students: Don’t be afraid to check original sources (Wouldn’t that be novel?).]

But, there is no acknowledgement on that story’s page (whose title uses a question mark) by Murdoch of the error and its correction.  That is not to say, however, that he always acts in such a clandestine manner.  Within another property in his empire, there was clear acknowledgement of the same error.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
The Question Mark
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

Unfortunately, due to the syndicated error phenomena, the zombie myth lives.

It also lives in a certain Louisiana State University study, on a United States federal government server, no less, for U.S. citizens to read (and become misinformed).  The National Institutes of Health website states, “Many organizations use credit scores as an employment screening tool, but little is known about the legitimacy of such practices.”

And, here we go, again:

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 8:35 AM
To: Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO, News Corporation (via Julie Henderson)
Cc: Tim Sullivan, writer, translator, yoga teacher and massage therapist, Money Blue Book
Subject: name your source; coining a term: CUR (credit-utilization ratio)

You published

When you close an account, especially a larger account, your credit-utilization ratio (CUR) will be affected and your score could go down. In addition, if the card you’re closing was the first credit card you ever got, it could shorten the length of your credit history, which can also hurt your score… Closing too many cards at once can cause your credit score to drop sharply from a snowball effect of the reasons mentioned above.

Who is your source regarding closing an account shortening a credit history?  Fair Isaac calls that a myth.

Also, where did you get the idea to use the initials CUR to refer to the so-called credit utilization ratio?  Why don’t you call it PBCL (proportion of balances to credit limits)?


Greg Fisher
Page A2
pagea2.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

Comcast/Microsoft errors, corrections and clarifications

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 10:52 AM
To: Brian L. Roberts, chairman and CEO, Comcast Corporation (via Adam Miller, EVP, Corporate Affairs, NBCUniversal, Comcast); Bill Gates, chairman, Microsoft (via Waggener Edstrom Worldwide)
Cc: Herb Weisbaum, The ConsumerMan, MSNBC.com (MSNBC Interactive News LLC), NBCUniversal, Comcast; Jim Bell, executive producer, TODAY, NBC News, Comcast; Charlie Tillinghast, president and publisher, MSNBC.com, Comcast / Microsoft
Subject: The ConsumerMan, MSNBC.com, errors, corrections and clarifications

You published: “Your credit score, which is based on your credit history, can have an enormous effect – positive or negative – on your life. That score is used by employers, lenders, landlords and insurance companies. A good score could save you thousands of dollars a year in interest. A bad score could cost you a job or a loan.”

Employers do not use credit scores.  Consumer reporting agency Experian states: “Experian’s Employment Insight report includes similar information about loans and credit cards that is listed in the credit report. It does not include year of birth, spouse reference, account number or credit score, which are irrelevant to hiring decisions.”

Where do your corrections appear?


Greg Fisher
Page A2
pagea2.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

Errors and corrections, CBS News

Sumner Redstone published, “The magazine marked the September 11, 2011 terror attacks with Art Spiegelman’s vivid black-on-black portrait of the Twin Towers… Credit: The New Yorker”

The attacks occured in 2001, not 2011.

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Monday, April 30, 2012 9:28 AM
To: Sumner Redstone, CBS, National Amusements (via Rachel Lulay)
Cc: Rand Morrison, executive producer, CBS News Sunday Morning, National Amusements; David Rhodes, president, CBS News, national Amusements (via S. McNair)
Subject: correction, 9/11, CBS News Sunday Morning, National Amusements

This is an experiment to determine how few characters it takes to elicit a correction and how long it takes for that change to occur.


Greg Fisher
Page A2
pagea2.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

Consumers Union, Microsoft, viral myth and error

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 05, 2012 11:35 AM
To: Stacy Johnson, CPA, executive producer, publisher, president, journalist, Money Talks News
Cc: Walter D. Bristol, chairman, Consumer Reports, Consumers Union; Amanda Walker, Consumer Reports senior project editor, Consumers Union; Margaret Shader, Web associate editor, Consumer Reports, Consumers Union; Communications, Consumers Union; James A. Guest, president, CEO, consumer Reports, Consumers Union; K. James Yager, CEO, director, Barrington Broadcasting Group, LLC; Miranda Marquit, staff writer, Moolanomy; Miranda Marquit, personal finance advice blogger, Family Money, Equifax; Amey Stone, deputy managing editor, MSN Money, Microsoft; Richard Jenkins, MSN Money, Microsoft; MSN Money editors, Microsoft; Christopher Oster, managing editor, MSN Money, Microsoft
Subject: RE: whistle stop, Consumers Union, Barrington Broadcasting, Money Talks News, MSN Money, viral

See this message and your response at http://www.pagea2.com/tag/microsoft/.

You appear to be part of a chain of sources for a myth and error gone viral.

Your video—to which a Barrington Broadcasting story appears to refer—now appears on Microsoft’s MSN Money.  The MSN article that surrounds it, “Why non-FICO credit scores aren’t worth buying” (elsewhere titled, “Don’t Buy Non-FICO Credit Scores”) is written by a blogger who actually works with Equifax, one of only two companies who sell the FICO credit score to consumers.

In the video (in which you mention Consumers Union), you state, “Your credit score is obviously important if you’re borrowing money, but many employers also look at scores when hiring.”

Employers do not use credit scores.

At the moment, your piece (titled “Time for free credit scores”) is the featured video on the MSN Money page, “Video tips: Credit scores, credit reports – MSN Money.”  The page says:

The world of credit has seen dramatic changes recently. While interest rates are low, lending standards are higher. Having a high credit rating is more important than ever, yet many people are buried in debt and hobbled by bad credit.

Good thing you’ve found MSN Money’s archive of videos about credit scores. How often should you request your credit reports and monitor your credit scores? How can you raise your credit scores? What are FICO scores?

Your video also appears (with advertisements) on your website, Money Talks News.  On the page containing the video, you exaggerate: “It’s no exaggeration to say your credit score can change your life. This single number can determine whether you get a job or own a home.”

Who told you that?


Greg Fisher
Page A2
pagea2.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

 

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Friday, March 23, 2012 2:34 PM
To: K. James Yager, CEO, director, Barrington Broadcasting Group, LLC
Cc: Walter D. Bristol, chairman, Consumer Reports, Consumers Union; Amanda Walker, Consumer Reports senior project editor, Consumers Union; Communications, Consumers Union; James A. Guest, president, CEO, consumer Reports, Consumers Union
Subject: Whistle-Stop, Consumers Union, Barrington Broadcasting, Who told you that?

With incredulity, you published: “Your credit score is obviously important if you’re borrowing money. But many employers also look at scores when hiring.”

At the bottom of that story is a link to the “Consumers Union website,” however, the Consumers Union page at the link address does not support your statement; it does not mention employers.

On a whistle-stop tour this month, I visited Consumer Reports.  The person with that organization I spoke to there wrote:

Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2012 1:34 PM
To: greg@creditscoring.com
Subject: Follow up to your visit earlier today

Hello Greg,

After your visit, I conferred with Mandy Walker and our experts over at Consumers Union (the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports), and we’ve since updated Mandy’s quote in my blog to more accurately reflect the updated language now found at the website cited.

I just wanted to thank you for bringing this to my attention, and apologize for the communication disconnect that occurred on this end between Consumers Union and Consumer Reports, which meant the update was not made to the blog post sooner.

Again, thanks for your sharp eye and follow through,
[name]

(Despite that, still, another Consumers Union document states, inaccurately, “Without a Disaster Information Shield, FICO scoring models could pose an affirmative barrier to the efforts of disaster victims to regain, and maintain, financial stability, access reasonably priced credit, and even regain employment.”)

Your page even contains advertisements while misinforming readers by saying that employers use credit scores.

Who told you that?


Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
creditscoring.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342