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Sunday, June 29, 2003

News Researcher:
Katharine Hepburn died today, at 96. News researchers and librarians love her performance in Desk Set. She played the head of a TV network's research department in this movie, threatened with replacement by a computer introduced by an efficiency expert. She outperformed the computer. As we all do. The movie is scheduled to show next Monday on AMC. IMDB cast, credits, description

(Added later:) I must say, though, that as much as I enjoy this movie it does reinforce one thing that I think is a bad reference habit: the researchers breezily answer questions without checking just to show how smart, or well-informed, they are. You want the names of Santa's reindeer? No problem, I just rattle them off. That's something that always concerns me. I try to always say, yes, I know the answer but I'm looking it up anyway. Don't want to get it wrong. It's like the Dave Barry column that Jim Meier reminded me of the other day:
"But basically, we try to be accurate. When we're writing our stories, we don't guess about facts. If we have ANY question, we thoroughly check the fact out by taking a poll of the journalists sitting around us in the newsroom.
For example, if we need the name of the U.S. secretary of state, we yell, ``Anybody know the name of the U.S. secretary of state?'' Then we listen to the various opinions of our cubicle neighbors. Only when we have carefully weighed their views do we proceed with writing the story (``The U.S. secretary of state, a short little lady possibly named `Marge,' said today that . . . '')."
(Miami Herald, 4/30/2000)
These bad habits drive me crazy.

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