The terrible reporting on Meryl Streep

Mashable and the Associated Press can definitely do better

On February 11th, Mashable published a story about Meryl Streep and the Berlin International Film Festival. Streep wasn’t exactly shown in a positive light. According to the report, she was responded to a question about the all-white jury of the film festival by stating, “We’re all Africans, really.”

Not a great thing to hear when diversity is the question of the hour.

What’s curious, however, is how this same quote is used later in the story as an answer to a different question; Streep was asked if she understood Arab and African films by an Egyptian reporter, and Mashable reported that she responded with the same quote as above.

Mashable’s source for both of these quotes is an article by the Associated Press. Both outlets state that she responded to questions about the panel by saying, “We’re all Africans, really.”

That’s pretty damning, and definitely would show a lack of awareness on diversity. But both outlets also state that the quote was from a question regarding her knowledge of regional and culture-specific films.

Mashable has issued a correction to their story since it was first published. I’m not aware of the exact date, but the first notification I received was a retweet from this morning.

The correction itself removes some of the negative implications of both Mashable’s and the Associated Press’ stories. An audio recording of the press conference was obtained by Mashable some point after publishing their initial story. Within that recording, Mashable found that the quote they had ran with was only said by Streep as part of a much larger response to the Egyptian reporter’s question — it actually had nothing to do with the diversity of the panel. In fact, the reporter had asked her multiple questions, with only one of them being featured in either article about the event.

The Associated Press’ story doesn’t contain any correction at this time, which is a shame considering how it painted Streep equally as negative as Mashable’s did. Streep’s full response shows her actually admitting that there are certain things she’s ignorant about. She also didn’t dismiss concerns regarding the panel’s lack of diversity by stating, “We’re all Africans.”

I can understand Mashable placing trust in the reporting from the Associated Press as a source for their own article; the AP has been around for over 150 years and have few marks against their integrity. A recent AP series even helped uncover an entire industry of slave labor behind the majority of shrimp imported to the United States.

The Streep story unfortunately adds a mark against the AP for misleading readers on her response. An additional mark can be placed against Mashable for not seeing the red flags in the AP article concerning her “We’re all Africans” quote being attributed as an answer to two different questions, one of which wasn’t included in the article for context whatsoever, the other was taken out of context.

None of this should detract from the concerning diversity issues with the festival’s panel of judges, of course, but that’s a topic I’ll leave for people far more knowledgeable than myself to discuss. The moral of this story is to always double-check your sources before assuming the worst of someone.


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