On Tuesday, Time Inc. announced yet another in a long series of corporate downsizings. On Wednesday evening, a horrid post by Time.com reporters Melissa Chan and Jennifer Calfas on "What to Know About Suspected Virginia Shooter James Hodgkinson" illustrated why the parent company is and deserves to be a continually shrinking enterprise.
Twelve hours after Hodgkinson's Alexandria, Virginia attack early Tuesday attack which critically wounded Congressman Steve Scalise and injured four others, Chan and Calfas had the nerve to write:
... What was his motive?
A motive is still unclear, and the FBI is investigating the incident. Slater, of the FBI, said it’s too soon to say whether the GOP lawmakers were targeted in a deliberate attack. “We’re exploring all angles,” Slater said.
The FBI is investigating if Hodgkinson had any associates, his whereabouts before the shooting, his social media presence and potential motivations. Slater did not comment when asked if Hodgkinson had a "vendetta" against Republicans during a press briefing Wednesday. He also said there is no other person in custody.
Leaning on the FBI as the sole excuse to claim that the "motive is unclear," despite an abundance of known facts, is pathetic journalistic misdirection. Of course the FBI isn't going to officially state a definitive conclusion or speculate about a "vendetta" until it gathers all of its evidence.
Here we see that two members of the press — which hasn't hesitated to speculate in the complete absence of relevant evidence about supposedly conservative- and Tea Party-driven motives for attacks which ultimately ended up having been carried out by others not associated with right-wing movements at all — decided not to report known facts which clearly point in the direction of Hodgkinson's attack having had political, anti-Republican motives.
The most obvious known fact which Chan and Calfas didn't report is that Hodgkinson determined which party's baseball team was practicing before going to the baseball field and opening fire. That fact, ultimately relayed by at least two Republican congressmen (Ron DeSantis and Jeff Duncan), was known and reported within an hour of the attack, and has never been subject to any doubt. It was reported Tuesday at many establishment press outlets, including NBC News and the Associated Press, and far earlier at sites like Slate and Hot Air.
Perhaps there's a clue to the Time.com pair's intentions in the post's headline. "What to Know About Suspected Virginia Shooter James Hodgkinson" has a distinct and detestable "here's what we'll allow you to know" flavor, as opposed to the usual reader-focused (at least in theory) "here's what you need to know."
Additionally, Congressman Scalise's name is in the post's URL but is outrageously absent from its content. The post's opening sentence refers to Scalise and other victims only as "A top Republican congressional leader and four other people." It's fair to ask if Chan and Calfas deliberately removed Scalise's name from earlier reporting — and if so, why.
It's fair to contend that horrible reporting like this has almost contributed to conditions which created the need for the company to cut yet another 300 jobs:
Time Inc. cuts 300 positions
The move, which President and CEO Richard Battista described as "difficult but necessary," will reduce Time Inc's global staff by 4% and comes as the magazine industry struggles to cope with declines in print circulation.
"We are taking a holistic approach to cost-structure reengineering for the whole company," Battista told CNNMoney in an interview. "In commencing that work, we are looking for ways to be more efficient as a company and ways to find more cost savings."
"Efficiency" is nice Mr. Battista, but accuracy and completeness are prerequisites, and they aren't present in the yesterday's Time.com post.
If the post by Chan and Calfas is representative of the company's print and web output, no wonder fewer news consumers are finding the "time" to bother reading it.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.