Vice News and furries, the Fullerton murder story, and “sensational media”.
by Patch O'Furr
Vice’s Furries topic has excellent news reporting. You can find a few missteps, but it has some of the best focused attention that the media has ever given to the fandom, way beyond Furries 101. One outstanding article is CSI Fur Fest: The Unsolved Case of the Gas Attack at a Furry Convention. Writer Jennifer Swann got an Ursa Major award nomination for it. Their most recent is Who Makes Those Intricate, Expensive Furry Suits? (Fred Patten and myself were proud to assist writer Mark Hay – I sent a long summary of history, makers, details to investigate, and links.)
Super thanks to @GoraLadka for consulting @phoenixwuff, me, @furbuy for this fabulous #fursuit article! @Spottacus https://t.co/0EjnvcMwg3— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) July 28, 2017
Those show that not all media is bad, and talking to them has good results. That’s different from prevailing attitudes against “sensationalism” that blindly treats “the media” as an epithet – as if PBS is the same as the National Enquirer. There’s a world of difference between trashy daytime TV and well-researched long-form reporting. But a fandom grudge persists, for as long as 16 years after stale old incidents we all know and hate. There’s even backlash at members who step out of line. This friend of ours experienced it:
That’s too bad for Ursa-nominated Jennifer Swann, who’s working on a Vice piece about the Fullerton murders to cover upcoming news about the trial.
And for Sanjiv Bhattacharya, who made effort to learn about how the fandom was dealing with the Fullerton tragedy while he writes an article for The Atlantic. This article he wrote about a school shooting proves what worthy service he could be doing.
If you can help Vice cover the Fullerton story, please send a confidential contact to firstname.lastname@example.org that will be passed to Jennifer Swann. (Sanjiv’s contacts are in his link.) Trial news is coming, and there are a lot of unanswered questions. The hope is for a story that everyone can learn from.
Some further opinions:
For those concerned about “fandom image”, a smart idea is to pick good, careful reporters to work with. Refusing to talk is reasonable for stories that don’t exist unless the media makes them. But I don’t think that’s the case with this murder story. It will get attention no matter what, and it’s a community happening with undeniable furry connection. (There would have been no crime if the participants weren’t closely tied through fandom – akin to a tragedy at a school or workplace). Rumors and false beliefs about it can get dismantled with careful reporting, but they grow worse without it. I think it’s self-defeating to assume “the media” in general has bad faith.
Journalist work involves fact finding. Like in a court, there’s a process of putting evidence itself on trial. There can be many versions of a story that need a pro to investigate. Kind of like lawyers, journalists are liable to get treated like they’re always wrong – until a person needs one on their side. Good reporting can make sympathy, abate rumors, or aid a cause like fund raising for the kids in this story. Free press is even essential to democracy. It’s about government (that’s what law and justice is.)
It all relates to telling a shocking story, which isn’t the same as being “sensational”. If anti-intellectual attitude shuts down reporting it, next time something bad happens, then ask “how could we have seen this coming? Why us? How can we stop this?” And the answers were there, but nothing was learned because image was too important. Or worse – nobody even bothers thinking about it because it has “nothing to do with us”.
It’s easier to forget the whole thing. But there are those close to this story who will never forget. Understanding for them can come through understanding by us.
Like the article? It takes a lot of effort (and a few beers) to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon, where you can access exclusive stuff for just $1.
I tried to help Sanjiv Bhattacharya who does seem to be a really nice person who is trying to do some solid reporting but we hit brick walls. I spent some time with him both at dinner and just hanging for a time and he really does seem to be trying to unravel a story and not just jump to conclusions. I had a wonderful moment with him where he learned most of the furs were into really geeky things like obscure British TV shows he never expect Americans to have heard of.
By the time I figured out who he needs to talk to he had been given the cold shoulder and I haven’t heard from him since then. I did wonder if his story was even still happening.
I wanted to have him come to our party to talk to people in a controlled situation but I had to back out due to discomfort of party goers. I really didn’t want to harm our gathering and I was getting pushback.
Now I have a better idea who he would need to talk to I’m fairly positive they wouldn’t want to talk (They just about told me so). It just seems too many people close to the story got burned by the initial bad reporting.
I did want him to unravel the Yost murders because I wanted honest answers to why but I expect like many things I’m probably not going to get to know.
Uh the difference between Furry and Scientology is the Furry fandom isn’t a cult that steals peoples money, forces them to cut off contact with their families and for the most part furries don’t go stalking people who leave the fandom. Most people who get upset about the media representation of the fandom are being melodramatic. The overwhelming majority of the population either don’t know about us or if they do don’t give a shit as long as we’re not yiffing in their yards.
I totally agree. I think the Scientology remark was disappointment like “you don’t have to be like that” (It’s not a cult so please don’t behave like a lite version of one). The complaint of that person happened because I recommended them to a reporter as someone reasonable to talk to, after I saw them doing a good job of moderating. There were accusations of attention whoring so I had to jump in and say it was my suggestion.
It’s the one thing that gets passed down in the fandom: The media usually screws over those they talk to.
It’s been changing in recent years though.
Furries, like a lot of people, latch onto certain platitudes or rules of thumb and turn them into absolute, black-and-white, immutable laws of the universe. In time, people lose sight of the original rhyme, reason, and rationales behind these rules-of-thumb.
So, one of those guidelines-turned-hardline-rules is: “The media is bad! Never talk to the media, for any reason, ever.”
Another one is, “Don’t ‘come out’ as a furry.”
Another one is, “Never compare furries to other minority groups, ever!”
As with practically everything, context matters.
I did an interview with…I think it was Vice, for Mr. Gold’s book “The Time He Desires” and the interviewer remixed my answers in such a way that it left a bad taste in my mouth.
Maybe it was “Slate.” I no longer remember.
I hear that, the article seems reaching, but not malicious to me. It seems like it started with a point and he plugged in your quotes to fit it rather than focusing on your words.
I’ve taked to matt, he’s very nice and supportive. I remember he wrote the only media piece about Rainfurrest 2015 at the time and unlike online drama it was extremely positive.
Matt also supported the GaymerX convention. I think you could hardly pick a better reporter for furry stuff although nobody’s perfect.
Oh, man, I love Matt Baume. Nice guy, good writer, supportive of furries, probably a furry-in-the-making. 🙂
I didn’t find it malicious, but it left a bad taste in my mouth nonetheless.