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Spin's Kings of Leon Feature Inserts an Error AND a [sic] into New Times Copy

Maybe you read Spin magazine's October feature about how Kings of Leon remain defiantly popular despite the fact that everyone who knows anything about music thinks they suck?

Maybe you also recognized the first quote in the piece was from a post on Up On The Sun. The quote has since been fixed online, but, as printed, it read:

"Kings of Leon may now officially be the biggest rock band of -- or at least by -- the '00s. [They] did this in the Internet age, despite the fact that pretty much every music blogger I know actively despise [sic] them. Congratulations, Kings of Leon. You still suck, though." -- Phoenix New Times, March 2010
Those were my words.

Well, besides both the despise(s) error and the accompanying "[sic]." Spin seems to have added those things.

Now, this may not seem like a big deal to some folks -- and feel free to call me a little crybaby bitch in the comments section -- but it's annoying that Spin embarrassed this publication by inserting an error with the in-text correction. The magazine is refusing to run a correction acknowledging that fact, sadly.

Here's the deal: Putting a "[sic]" after something someone says or writes when there are not legal implications to their exact wording is generally douche-y. As the wikipedia article on sic says, the technique is, "used in humorous comments and for ridicule, typically by drawing attention to the original writer's mistakes." That's how they're generally used by music writers -- in my experience, at least. Otherwise, we just quietly clean up the minor error. I'm sure I've probably done this myself when I sought to illustrate how dumb a source was, so I can't complain too loudly.

Anyhoo, when I first saw this, I thought, "Damn, Spin caught some lax editing in New Times! Shit, that's embarrassing! I wish they would have just fixed it, but I guess I got what I deserve!"

Then I did a little investigation. As it turns out, Spin either inserted that error or didn't look at any version of the post more than a few minutes old. Maybe I did mis-type "despise" when the post first published -- I can't recall -- but we definitely didn't leave it up there very long. Maybe some news aggregator pulled that version but since I was told the article went through "fact checking" you'd think they would have caught this, right?

How do we know my version is right?

First, there's this screenshot of the sentence in our blogging software. I pulled this up on our copy editor's computer in front of several other New Times employees who can vouch for the fact that I could not have changed it without the publishing status reflecting that.

Don't trust our software? Google my sentence. You'll find it was stolen re-purposed by a site called Gazette Direct, one of those generally annoying sites that grabs our stuff, puts it on its site without attribution and collects the hits in our stead.

As you can see, its version, posted on March 20, has my sentence correct. This sort of site generally doesn't correct minor spelling or grammar errors -- they just Control-C/control-V stuff.

Then, try Googling the Spin version of that sentence. No results, unless you put in the [sic] it inserted. That erroneous sentence has since been duplicated far and wide, much to my embarrassment, but always with Spin's "[sic]."

What does all this mean? Spin inserted the error it "fixed," basically. I've asked the author, Steve Kandell, for a correction and presented the evidence above. I was basically told that the magazine put the story through fact-checking before publishing it and doesn't think it made a mistake.

I'm not sure how Spin thinks this happened other than by its own hand, but it's not a big deal, I guess.

It is a little fishy that the article's thesis is that everyone who bashes this terrible band is wrong. That point is belabored throughout the piece as Kandell establishes people like me as straw men using our quotes, then refuting each anti-KOL argument in turn. When doing that, a little wink-nod grammar "fix" to our arguments certainly helps buttress the idea that we're all fools, while the great and wise Spin magazine "gets" Kings of Leon on a level we can't. But, having corresponded with Kandell, who seems like a friendly and generally fair-minded guy, I'm reasonably confident he wasn't looking to get an extra edge at our expense.

He just made a mistake.

About the quote and the band.

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Martin Cizmar
Contact: Martin Cizmar