Great White and Journalism 101

So I was driving this weekend when Great White popped onto my radio -- specifically its cover of the highly enjoyable Ian Hunter song "Once Bitten Twice Shy," which became the band's only top ten hit in 1989. Given how many times I've heard the tune over the years, I wasn't paying much attention until one couplet popped out at me: "You didn't know that rock and roll burned/So you bought a candle and you lived and you learned."

Obviously, given Great White's role in a horrific 2003 blaze at a Rhode Island nightclub that killed 98 patrons and injured many more, the lines took on an unintended double meaning. But in all the coverage this tragedy received over a period of years, I couldn't remember a single report mentioning this curious bit of synchronicity. So I conducted a search using Nexis, an enormous news service that provides subscribers with immediate access to pieces published on assorted topics by an enormous number of newspapers, magazines and so on; it's as close as possible to all-encompassing. To my surprise, I found only three articles that quoted the lyrics -- and two of them, both from the Washington Post, rendered the last part of the rhyme as "you loved and you learned," which is incorrect based on the version I just streamed on Rhapsody. The only publication that got it right, then, was PM Engineer, which describes itself as "The quality magazine for plumbing, piping, hydronics, fire protection engineers."

Apparently, journalists could learn a little something about fact-checking from the folks who fix our sinks. -- Michael Roberts

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