In a weird, sort of uncharacteristic move, the New York Times published an article on April 5th entitled “The Diva Departs: Renée Fleming’s Farewell to Opera.” In it, the author claimed that the prolific American diva was “retiring from opera.”
This is not true.
Ms. Fleming quickly refuted these claims by posting a Vanity Fair article on her Facebook page, writing “The scoop–lot’s ahead…including opera!” In case anyone had any doubts that she was not retiring, she (or her social media team) answered some people directly:
I love The New York Times. I’ve read the Arts & Culture section of the paper ever since I was 9. But this is just bad reporting.
Or is it?
All of the evidence the author presented in the article was taken from previous reports, interviews, and articles written about Ms. Fleming and is largely circumstantial. Not once in the article did the author even reference that he spoke with her directly.
Is this an attempt at content curation?
Should New York Times be in the business of content curation?
In a time where the media institution’s credibility is being questioned by the current administration and its supporters, such an erroneous article is a dangerous way to add fuel to the flames. But should we lump Arts & Culture and Political reporting together and hold the two to the same standards?
In my opinion, yes we should.
Opera might not be earth-shattering, nor may it be a great indicator of the current world, but once such a respected journal as the Times starts content curating where it should be reporting facts, then it directly affects the press’ role as a check and balance. It doesn’t matter whether they are reporting in the latest escapades of the administration or the retirement status of the greatest living American soprano.
One thing we can say, thank you Ms. Fleming, for keeping your fans on social media up to date on your life!