Talking with Jack Shafer about Bogus Trend Stories

Last Friday I talked with Slate’s Jack Shafer about how he finds the bogus trend stories he writes about and what he considers to be some of the main characteristics of them. I got the story idea after seeing a few journalists tweet about Shafer’s latest criticism of The New York Times’ trend story about criminals wearing Yankees caps.

Shafer said that in the eight years that he’s reported on fake trend stories, only one reporter has contacted him in response — two years after the fact. Journalists don’t like owning up to having written fake trend stories, in some cases because they don’t think the “trends” they’ve written about are fake. As an experiment, I sent a tweet via Poynter’s Twitter account saying that we would give a free travel mug or T-shirt to the first journalist who owned up to writing a fake trend story. Not surprisingly, no one responded!

You can read my story here.

Published by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

Mallary is a mom of two young kiddos -- Madelyn and Tucker. Mallary absolutely loves being a mom and often writes about the need to find harmony when juggling motherhood and work. Mallary is the Assistant Director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, where she manages the Center's various programs related to distance learning, freedom of expression, and digital journalism. Previously, she was Executive Director of Images & Voices of Hope and Managing Editor of The Poynter Institute’s media news site, Mallary grew up outside of Boston and graduated from Providence College in Rhode Island. In 2015, she received a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University. She now lives in beautiful Austin, Texas, with her kids, husband Troy and cat Clara. She's working on a memoir, slowly but surely. You can reach her at

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