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Christchurch's 'Press' posts fabricated article on 'fur fetishists'

Your rating: None Average: 5 (10 votes)

The Press, of Christchurch, New Zealand, today posted an article about furries - described by writer Vicki Anderson as "those who like to dress up in furry animal costumes and role play." A group of furs get together over coffee to discuss what they get up to in private.

Sounds simple enough, if a little misguided. But all is not as it seems . . .

Update: Editor Kamala Hayman responded in an email:

I have passed your concerns onto the reporter and will deal with the issues raised on Monday. We are certainly committed to accuracy and will correct errors of fact.

Update 2 (15 Apr): This story featured in the Weekend Press and Waikato Times (photos).

Update 3: Ms. Anderson has also responded, saying:

The couple in question are recent arrivals from the United States, they have only lived in Christchurch for a few months. They were kind enough to introduce me to their circle of friends. My interviews with them was genuine [..] I found it difficult to find people from the community who were willing to be named. Having seen the outcry after the story has been published, now I understand why they felt this way.

Update 4 (16 Apr): The Press published a new article filled with quotes from named furs.


The piece uses not real names, nor real fan names, but species identifiers such as "Mr. Wolf", "Rabbit", "Chicken", "Fox" and "Donkey"; the latter:

[...] admits to being caught "in flagrante delicto" with a dragon and being questioned by police before being allowed to drive home, in full costume, after a fur party in 2006.

The first reported action of "Mr Wolf" is to out himself as a 'furvert' and inappropriately touch the reporter.

Many small inconsistencies call the writer's credibility into question. Everyone arrives in costume. "Donkey" is a member of the Furry Writer's Guild – whose closest listed member is Australian Paul Kidd, over 1400 miles away.


The furry story featured in the paper's Weekend Press (photos by Joppy)

Stereotypes about what goes on at furmeets abound, mixed in with copious quotes from WikiFur, and events apparently adapted from an interview [NSFW] with local fur Colin on Eating Media Lunch. The article also uses photos lifted from an article written a mere three months ago for Australian broadsheet The Age, where they were used with the photographers' permission. Both papers are owned by Fairfax Media.

Local members of the furry community have written in to denounce the article as a fraud in the comments:

Most of this article sounds fake. I was at the '06 meet and there was no dragon or donkey furries/suiters there. A few other things point to this being faked up, including the number of full/different types of full suits in Christchurch.

We're the organizers of FurcoNZ [...] We echo the comment made above, your article, while resonablly well constructed, seems to be taken from bits and pieces off the internet and from our official website, without giving proper credit or references. [...] we're a pretty tight-knit community, and we do not know of the people you named in your article. In fact, the Christchurch community has been diminishing in size since the earthquake.

Hi, local Christchurch furry reporting in. I have doubts about this article, but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. I've talked with the NZ furry community and the facts don't seem to add up.

I laughed when the article said Christchurch "boasts" a large number of furries. Most keep quiet, and there are only 5 or so active local furries. I don't recognize any of the furries names you've mentioned, nor the fursuits they are wearing. I didn't see any of them at the previous 2 conventions either.

We think you've made up most of the interview.

MiDFur chairman Pete "CynWolfe" Smith was not amused:

We have contacted the Age in Melbourne about this in an attempt to find out why the article was written with our photos involved, and have also indicated the obvious inconsistencies with the NZ article, and it's blatant made up nature. We will post any results to our lawyer's contact.

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

It's one thing to do a biased article but it's something completely different to write one that isn't true. Maybe the furs in New Zealand can sue on behalf of the fandom and use the money for a convention or something.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 4.8 (4 votes)

I say. Along with this. It was printed in a newspaper with pictures taken at MIDfur. Copyrighted no less.

Your rating: None Average: 1.7 (15 votes)

I stand amazed but not surprised. I been sympathetic to religious right, and pro life causes and was a republican campaign volunteer form 2004 to 2008. I see very familiar methodology in bias reporting on Conservative, Christian fundamentalist and furries. It was my own study and fact check stories about furries comparing the inaccuracies in reporting compared the same media targeting conservatives that dew me into the fandom.
One pattern I am seeing is how many stories use some form of “those who like to dress up in furry animal costumes “
Or from Vancoufur
“1. They are a community who enjoy dressing up as, acting like, and celebrating anthropomorphized ani Jesse Donaldson’s piece is classic biased reporting:
The Denver post
“The 2009 convention drew members from across the country who dress in either full or partial animal or cartoon animal costumes. “

Your rating: None Average: 1.8 (13 votes)

LOL, does Rick Santorum know you post on fetish sites like this?

Your rating: None Average: 3.4 (5 votes)

begone troll

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (3 votes)

Back in the home of Mr Wolf, there's an uncomfortable two minutes when he plays me a YouTube clip of Bunny and Bear furverts, fully costumed, sitting on each other's faces.

I dunk my gingernut into my tea and try not to giggle when I realise the "pool boy" in this video is a frog character named Brigitte Bourdeau.

OK, sounds like someone's been watching Michael Cogliantry's "Furry Kama Sutra" series. (As it contains neither actual members of the furry fandom, nor "real" fursuits, is that really what a furry would show to a journalist?)

Your rating: None Average: 4.2 (5 votes)

Not to mention WikiFur being a "section" of Wikipedia, lol.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (5 votes)

In addition to the fact that there's no one named "Donkey" listed as a member of the Furry Writers' Guild, I can also confirm that there's no one by that username registered on the FWG forums.

Your rating: None Average: 4.4 (7 votes)

The irony of an individual in a place called ChristChurch so blatantly violating the 9th commandment is so thick you could drive a mote through it.

Your rating: None Average: 4.8 (8 votes)

As a Christchurch fur I can't tell you how furious I am that this was posted.

You've basically ruined our tiny little community and the things I heard while working were disgusting. Ranging from "I wouldn't let such sick perverts near my children!" All the way to "I'll burn these ***** alive if I ever saw one here!"

Not to mention, there are less than 10 known Christchurch furs from what I have noticed. A huge population? Blatant lie.

Damage has been done that can't be taken back, we just hope we can patch this up ASAP.

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (6 votes)

That being said, i'm glad my friend Cynwolfe was on it ASAP. The reaction from NZFurs [Not just Chch furs] was absolutely crazy! :C

I can't wait to see the outcome of this.

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (5 votes)

I'm sorry to hear about this. That fake journalist deserves to be beaten with a rolled up copy of her own article. And fired.

Please do get in touch with higher-ups at the newspaper, introduce yourself very nicely as a member of a small community with a creative hobby, and explain how you have to protect yourself now because of mean and shitty attitudes caused by the stupid woman's transparently faked article.

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (4 votes)

This is what i'm doing today, i'm very upset about this, but i'll hopefully get somewhere with it.

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

The Press had been in contact with me regarding this and I have met up with Vicki today to "set things straight". Seeing as they have mentioned FurcoNZ (which I have been running as Head Organizer for the past 3 years).

If you're not already on the mailing list (the NZFurry one), I have posted a recount of what happened and is happening with the follow up article.

Also, hi! Don't believe I have talked with you before even though we are both in New Zealand, and the fact that I am in Christchurch for the past 3 days and that I should've made an effort to meet up with you while here! Maybe next time!

Your rating: None Average: 5 (4 votes)

This is a repost off the NZFurry mailing list, of what happened today amist all the fuss, "confusion" and perhaps rage. She/The Press is going to be running a follow up article and some of you might have already known, talked to Pete (of MidFur) and another local fur (Ant) along with myself for that.

Please take a grain of salt and remember, I cannot stress enough that what I said is my own personal opinion and in no way representative of the rest of the New Zealand community and fandom.

=====

So, I "happen" to be right down here in Christchurch while the article ran over this past weekend. Needless to say a lot of you had quite mixed reactions to what has been written... most of them negative for obvious reasons.

Pete (from MidFur) has already expressed his concerns with the use of MidFur images in print and on the online edition (which has since been pulled), and in fact Vicki Anderson (the journalist involved with running this article) have interviewed him over the phone earlier this afternoon. The major reason those photos from MidFur was used, was because The Weekend Press' parent company is FairFax Media, which also own (?) The Age in Melbourne where the original story and photo was run last year, so perhaps they felt it was legal for them to do so. Again, I am sure Pete or the media liason from MidFur has taken care of that aspect already.

Since the publication of the article, she has gotten a lot of... "hate"mail regarding the alledged interview, and therefore been in contact with various people over the matter to gain a fairer representation. Pete and "Dragon", Ant (I am sure most of us knows him), and finally myself. Seeing as I was in the area, she really wanted to have an actual person that's local to do the interview for the follow up article.

Now everyone knows talking to the press is a bad idea, especially when the topic is furry and "sex and orgies" but seeing as we have crossed that bridge and "Pandora's Box" have been opened, claiming it doesn't exist as a rebuttal but refusing to actually let them conduct a "fairer" interview would just make things well, go nowhere.

Anyhow, I met up with Vicki at their makeshift offices by Christchurch Airport (since the earthquake) earlier this evening to "set things straight" as she calls it.

Some of the burning questions a lot of you no doubt wanted to know (and keep in mind I still don't believe 100% of what she claims happened, but that's my view on all media/journalists, but she was adament it's what she experienced and was a truthful representation):
- The whole original article/interview came about because a college that worked at The Press in Christchurch is a "furry", but because he works there, he didn't want to be interviewed, instead he pointed Vicki to a friend he knows, that knows a couple from America that arrived into Christchurch recently and it would be interesting to do a story on.
- She was actually uncomfortable with running the article with the heavily "biased" theme originally, but kept an open mind and her editor actually told her that if that was her experience with the people interviewed, then it should be run as such.
- Originally photos from the interview with the American couple were to be used, however apparently they changed their mind and did not want photos of their suits published along with the original article, hence the use of "stock" photos from FairFax media's archives (hence all the MidFur photos).
- She did (and I can confirm) that an e-mail was sent prior to FurcoNZ 2011 (last year) in regards to doing an article. We of course gave the standard "no press/media are allowed at the event" but, myself personally and a few others have no issues if you do want to interview/talk to us. Unfortunately she did not receive the reply. (As a sidenote, a couple of Victoria University students also e-mailed us wanting to do a documentary and wishing to attend FurcoNZ and again, we kindly explained our policy and refused to grant them registration).
- She stood by her journalistic integrity and I reiterated that I am not there to judge that. What I said with her earlier in the evening is purely my own personal opinion and experience, and in NO WAY represent the views of all the members of our local community (and I could not stress that point enough).
- If she managed to talk to me (or any willing furry in New Zealand) last week before it goes to print, none of this would have happened or, a much fairer and representative article about our community will have been published and none of this "mess" would have happened.

As Pete has already pointed out, she has been e-mailing us back and forth following up with the article and interview, trying to make sure that the views are more balanced and in no way biased. As soon as it goes to print, she will notify me via e-mail and TXT message and hopefully will arrange to have a hard copy sent to me.

In my opinion, on face value she does seem like a genuine, nice person after meeting up with her for over an hour, and so far with the e-mail and TXT correspondance, back up her character as such, and she does stand by her journalistic intergrity. But again, I can't speak for everyone in this community so you all can make up your own minds and take everything with a grain of salt.

What's done's done in the original article and hopefully this upcoming follow up article is much more truthful and representative of what our New Zealand community represents.

There will be photos from the New Zealand community hopefully posted this time, with correct captioning. They are mostly from the various FurcoNZ and events that we have done. Unfortunately she insisted only suits I own/or people I talked at that point in time that have explictly given permission are used this time, as she did not want a repeat of the last article, being accused of "making things up/ficticious photos". So don't feel I was biased at only showing a certain selection of suits, as I actually showed her pretty much all the suits that exist in NZ (and you all know who you are). She was amazed with the quality of the suits that came from the community (and I am quite amused in fact) that she commented they are much better and "professional" looking than what the original American couple showed her in the first interview/article (think Warehouse/Online/generic mascot quality suits).

Well, we shall see what happens this week when the follow up/revised article goes to print and online.

And feel free to hassle me for any inaccuracies, or, send your hate mail this way. :P

I also picked up 3 copies of The Weekend Press while here, so if any of you want a look or want to grab a copy off me, again, bug me about it (I will be back in Auckland in the next few days).

Thanks and hope that clears up whatever questions you have about this whole saga.

- lyctiger

Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (5 votes)

Wait. Your response to an apparently-fabricated smear article... is to do a follow-up interview with the same reporter?

When in doubt, assume that what went to print was exactly what the reporter and editor _wanted_ in print.

I do not have high hopes for the follow-up article, and this time around, you won't be able to say "that was faked".

Your rating: None Average: 5 (4 votes)

The follow up article/interview was going to happen, as Pete (Chairman from MidFur), Dragon (I forgot his name, but also from Australia/MidFur) and another furry from NZ has been interviewed over the phone earlier in the day. So I could have either stood by, or actually "constructively" explain better what Furry is and more importantly, what our local New Zealand community is all about (seeing as I ran FurcoNZ for the past 3 years and actually active in the local community).

Pete insisted that a draft version be sent to him first before final publication/print, and because I had been interviewed it was also sent to me. We have both read the first and subsequent revisions of the draft and let me say this, it is more or less the same as what we have discussed/said in the interview. So unless she (Vicki) wants to stir things up worse than before, the follow up interview should've been what her first article should have been about "furries".

We both have e-mail corresponse (from her official The Press e-mail even) with the drafts and if the final print article deviates a lot from what we've seen so far, we will have proof that she is totally fabricating this upcoming article up, which we believe won't happen this time round (not after Pete threaten legal action against The Press over the original article).

Your rating: None Average: 4 (5 votes)

So she supposedly interviewed an american couple that "just moved there" and "didn't want photos used", and don't have names.

Bullshit! They don't exist.

This is the poorest told backpedaling cover-up lie I've heard in a while. What about all the other made-up shit in the article?

Let her give evidence that they actually exist, or retract the entire article as a fraud.

That's all an actual journalist could do at this point. This doesn't make me mad so much because it insults a hobby (furries), but because it's such unethical journalism. It sounds almost like a case to sue for defamation, with Poppy as witness for the damage- to make a statement to other newspapers not to print made-up bullshit without labeling it as fiction.

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (3 votes)

So the reason the photos weren't used (apparently) is because they weren't proper fursuits. They were cheap and horrible. (Or so I heard)

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

The dragons name is Moskinta, a good friend of mine from back in Aus :)

And yes! I'm quite hidden down here, i'll be visiting Auckland soon anyway /end off topic

I have a copy of the article too, and am VERY glad that these people could fix this situation. Cynwolfe, Moskinta and the others are amazing with the media and after MiDFur in January this year, I know they will do an excellent job.

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (3 votes)

Hmm, which dragon is that? The one mentioned in the initial article? O.o

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

I think Poppy is referring to the dragon lyctiger mentioned.

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

Well I'd love to meet up with you someday, it's always nice to meet more fellow fursuiters.

Personally we (the people in NZ) was going to handle the situation anyways, but seeing as the original article used photos from MidFur, the article ended up being Aussie-biased more than anything. I am sure Pete/MidFur staff are excellent at handling the press but we Kiwis know how to handle ourselves too ;)

As of typing this comment, we have all received and reviewed the final draft version and everything looks good, so hopefully a lot of things will be cleared up and put more balance and perspective to the first article.

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (3 votes)

I'm an American fur and this pisses me off. We feel your pain tho, there have been quite a few so-called "documentaries" on us here that do this same bullshit, but what happened and what was said there is just...not cool. You have all my support and definitely the support of the other North American furs.

---ZolFox

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (6 votes)

I was rather appalled to hear about this myself, this article seems like just blatant lies and slander with the intention of making the general public hate us. It's hard enough trying to live as it is with the negative things in the media already (Case in point, CSI), we don't need more morons spreading this kind of discrimination.

Your rating: None Average: 4.2 (5 votes)

I laughed my head off at the CSI episode. Revoke my Furry Pass for all I care.

Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (5 votes)

Most Furries can and WILL laugh at the CSI episode. I sure do! It's more of an inside joke though than it is a representation.

Your rating: None Average: 2.8 (5 votes)

"Disinformation" not "Discrimination".

Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

Well wrong word I was looking for, but regardless, just representing us to the public in a way that is certainly not true.

Glad they decided to take down the photo though.

Your rating: None Average: 4.6 (7 votes)

As the article seems to be mostly fabricated, perhaps someone should write in to New Zealand's "Mediawatch" program?

Your rating: None Average: 2.4 (7 votes)

I quite enjoy how everyfur seems to be clamoring for the subjects in the article to make themselves known. I presume this is so they can be banned, effective immediately.

Honestly, other than the "nature lovers" notion, I've observed the same mannerisms among our kind, right down to unwelcome touching.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

It's mote along the lines of so we know they actually exist, since i'm inclined to believe they don't.

Anyone fessing up would get a "WTFBBQ this is why we don't talk to the media/press" slap on the wrist, but probably not a banning, heh.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (3 votes)

Fair enough. ;]

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

Indeed. It's not like NZ furs haven't talked to the press before, on the record.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (4 votes)

Another thing that's fishy, they went to "Mr Wolf"'s house without a camera?
Why are there no photos of the fursuits of the people she interviewed?

Your rating: None Average: 4.2 (6 votes)

"The couple in question are recent arrivals from the United States, they have only lived in Christchurch for a few months."

When all else fails, blame it on Americans.

"I found it difficult to find people from the community who were willing to be named."

...so out of rage that I couldn't find anyone I made some stuff up and pretended like I actually got someone to interview with, and if all else fails I'll accuse the people I just made stuff up about for being the reason I had to make stuff up about people.

Oh yellow journalism, you really haven't changed all that much have you?

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

So, the final follow-up version of the article is now online, there will be a small article published in the newspaper (mainly The Press Christchurch) that points to the full, online edition of the article.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/blogs/rock-and-roll-mother/6758621/Not-...

You can all form your own conclusions and opinions on this whole matter.

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

Good work on handling the situation there guys. Whether Mr. Wolf exists or not isn't all that relevant anymore. The fact is that there is at least a sense of damage control on their part, in the eyes of media that certainly gives the people reasonable doubt over the original article.

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (6 votes)

Nice job of dancing around the question of whether the couple exists. I smell bullshit...

"When contacted yesterday, Mr Wolf said he felt ''saddened'' by the reaction to the story. He also apologised for making me feel uncomfortable during the interview.

He said the pair moved to Christchurch only a few months ago from the United States, where such groups are more common.

He did not mean to cause any offence, he said.

They are simply here for a short time to visit extended family, including an elderly unwell relative. "

How conveeeeenient that now they're quickly on the way out of town. And she just happened to dig up these fictional foreign people during their fictional brief visit, instead of ones that actually live there and would be searchable. She's still bad at lying.

I'd like the writer to know that Americans can see what she said about us, and journalistic ethics are international, so it's fair to call her full of shit here!

Your rating: None Average: 4 (4 votes)

The new article is much better and gives a far more accurate picture but, like some others here, I don't believe that first article was from a real interview at all. No one knows those people, no-one similar is actually part of the furry writers guild, they wouldn't use fur names, wouldn't show suits and somehow are able to drive in suits. There's no way you can or police would allow you to drive in a fursuit. Your hands and feet would be unable to work the controls and you have severely restricted vision. I think the first article was just made up for attention, perhaps even planning for a second story once everyone wanted to talk to her, even if to change her story.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (3 votes)

The first story still demands a retraction. What an insult that she thinks she can just brush lies under the rug, after abusing the public forum of a newspaper, especially when they're such phony and badly told lies that it treats readers like credulous children.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (3 votes)

The silver lining is though, Kage's well known rule of dealing with the press "don't tell people what you're NOT" applies to the press themselves as well. The second article constantly (even the title itself) makes reference to the accusations that she was making things up. So what is the major thing people are going to be thinking of about the article? "This journalist was accused of making things up"

Even more odd is that when the first new article posted on Google News it was called "The Press" this new article they have been reduced "The Press (blog)". This probably has to do with the section of the site it was placed in more then the content, but it certainly characterizes to me the decrease in credibility.

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

Google News has several such 'genre' tags. Flayrah uses them, too; pieces tagged as announcements or newsletters get "(press release)", reviews and interviews are marked as "opinion", while opinion gets "OpEd". Material from In-Fur-Nation is listed as "(blog)", and get a syndication-source header - though I'm not sure how much worth it has as they're not in Google News themselves.

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

Actually it's probably because she put this one up on the blog section of the site as opposed to the regular part. There is a big red word that says "opinion" at the start of the column, and ironically people see this one as more fact then the piece that was "not opinion".

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Now something even weirder that happened just now, my furry section now has a link to this article, and the other two from the Press have mysteriously disappeared from Google News.

EDIT: And now they're back... I'm all confused...

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

On the second story: Much better. I believe that this one was in fact genuine, and at the very least is better-researched.

However, like Rakuen said above I do not believe that the first one was "Not a Furry Figment of [Her] Imagination".

Your rating: None Average: 2.8 (5 votes)

Sonious.

Psst.

Sonious.

If you want revenge on Equivamp for that "Should Sonious go back to his old icon?" poll, now would be a great time.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

I dare you to. >:3

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About the author

GreenReaper (Laurence Parry)read storiescontact (login required)

a software developer and Kai Norn from London, UK, interested in wikis and computers

Small fuzzy creature who likes cheese & carrots. Founder of WikiFur, lead admin of Inkbunny, and Editor-in-Chief of Flayrah.