A former colleague was interviewed and lamented that the journalist had mis-stated some of the facts, inflating his contribution and making him appear self-important.
The responses from others ranged from sympathetic (“That’s reporters for you”) to pragmatic (“Just don’t do any interviews!”). One beautifully crafted comment that completely appealed to my sense of realism was this:
“Clearly, in the great majority of all cases of mass media, the subject is NOT fairly and truthfully represented. Therefore, as a critical and rational reader, every time I read something from the media, I make the assumption that the article doesn’t tell the whole truth and is trying to sensationalize. With that in mind, why would you want to be fairly and truthfully represented? It confers no advantage. Any intelligent reader is going to assume you’re not, so it’s even more misleading.
Or, to put it another way, if everybody is lying and everybody knows that everybody is lying, then telling the truth is the most deceiving thing you can do.”
I read “Sons and Lovers” by DH Lawrence recently, ranked by the Guardian as one of the top 100 works of fiction of all time. The major romance in the novel is between Paul Morel and Miriam, who shared a bond for many years overshadowed by Paul’s love for his mother. In spite of having a deep, consuming love for Paul and acting as his spiritual support for much of his youth, Miriam was depicted as a weak and friendless girl who was ultimately rejected by Paul.
Lawrence based Miriam on a real woman in his life, Jessie Chambers. In her commentary on the novel she expressed that he had in no way faithfully represented the nature of their relationship, and this “hurt [her] beyond all expression”.
How tragic to be immortalized in this way; and yet, almost worthwhile.