Media

'People Magazine' Confuses Somewhat Intelligent NPR Producer

clayaiken.jpg

hide captionClay Aiken, future dad.

I try so hard not to be that squirrelly, little man who corrects pronunciation, or mocks bad writing just to feel superior. I hate that guy, but I have to be him right now — this is just too ridiculous. People has a feature in their "Scoop" section on the announcement that Clay Aiken is about to become a father. (Yeah, didn't see that coming.) But that mind-boggling "scoop" is nowhere near as mind-boggling as the way the scoop itself was reported. This paragraph almost blew my face off:

A year and a half after telling People, "I want to be a father so badly," Clay Aiken, 29, is finally getting his wish. In August the former substitute teacher will welcome a child with music producer Jaymes Foster, 50 — with whom he worked on Idol in 2003 — through artificial insemination, a rep for her music producer brother David confirms. "They both want this in their lives right now," says Foster's friend, actor Eric Roberts. "They're perhaps not typical parents, but they have the best foundation — a strong abiding friendship." Foster revealed the news to close friends at her birthday party in March. "She said, 'The one thing I haven't done is to be a parent,'" says Roberts's wife, Eliza, also a friend. "Clay's coming from the same place." Adds fellow Idol Season 2 alum Carmen Rasmusen of Aiken: "He has accomplished a lot in his career so it's a good time for him to be a dad."

What?!?! Who's a what what where what doing what with who and why!?!?!?! Is People trying to puzzle its readers? Do they want me NOT to learn things? Do they hate, hate, hate Strunk & White? I had to spend the better part of the 12 o'clock hour deciphering this beast of a paragraph. I've figured it out. I think. Maybe.

It's going to be hot this weekend. So I invite you to stay inside with the A/C cranked and rewrite this graph. I'll share my revision on Monday.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

I think nothing is more profoundly disturbing about this piece than the super-erudite Matt Martinez admitting in a public forum that he reads People. I admire your quixotic impulse to fix it rather than just switching to a different magazine, however. May the force and the Chicago Manual be with you, Matt.

Sent by Dave Wiley | 2:11 PM | 6-6-2008

That was an inordinate amount of ambiguous pronouns. I'm also sure that People had to have left out some sentences... It just doesn't make sense! Maybe their computers have a nifty "shuffle" button and they decided to shuffle the story to make it fresh and interesting.

Sent by Sarah Lee | 3:09 PM | 6-6-2008

I think a better question is: Why is the best life choice for a 50 year-old woman to have a child through insemination with Clay Aiken? And, trust me, I've had worse paragraphs come across my desk this week. They, at least, used verbs.

Sent by Ann V. | 3:35 PM | 6-6-2008

I am particularly intrigued that a "Rep" appears to have spoken through artificial insemination. Oh the wonders of modern science.

Sent by Jeff Mickey | 3:40 PM | 6-6-2008

Not to mention the facts. Whether there's a child on the way or not, Aiken never met Foster until early 2005, two years after he was on Idol.

Sent by Pamela | 6:04 PM | 6-6-2008

Clay Aiken will become a father.
The mother will be Jaymes Foster.
Aiken worked with Foster on American Idol (pace Pamela who's probably right).
This information was confirmed by a representative of Foster's brother.
A friend of Foster also confirms.
The spouse of that friend, who is a friend of Foster in her own right, also confirms.
A friend of Aiken thinks it's all great.

A lot of words to say not much.

Pregnant at 50? Scaaarry.

Sent by Marc Naimark | 6:49 PM | 6-6-2008

Oye - so when did NPR start repeating gossip from magazines like People, even when it is done tongue in cheek? What is this world coming to? NPR - shame.

Sent by Sze | 9:01 AM | 6-7-2008

Till I read this,I had had respect for NPR. Joined Newsweek did we? However poorly written the article is,the meanining is fairly clear if your intention is no disrespect to Clay and Jaymes and of course the baby.There are 2 Fosters. One is the famous David Foster,music producer and composer. The other is his younger sister Jaymes,also a producer and co-composer with Clay. End of mystery. David is the one Clay met first. As to The quote from Jaymes,having been married for 23 years with no children,I'm sure that what she was referencing WITH FRIENDS when she said having children was "one thing she hadn't done." you make it sound like a bloody laundry list.
I won't get in to the Eric Roberts pronouns any further. You're an idiot. If it was a story connected to ANYBODY but Clay there would be no snark. As for Carmen Rasmussen-really-a season 2 wild card pick,also known to yodel. She always has a comment about everything to do about Clay to get hits online. This being said,to be fair to her,I agree with her,and think the video she has on You-tube is fantastic. Better than Carrie Underwood and her-oh my G-d girl-don't show me those panties now! ones.
Pregnant at any age? Scary. Thanks for being so "helpful."
NPR-No snaps for you. Baaaaaaad!

Sent by KartofflMuter | 12:41 PM | 6-7-2008

I'll gladly have however many more babies Clay Aiken wants. I don't care exactly how he wants to impregnate me, though I would prefer the old fashioned way. He sings like a dream and is so gorgeous. The women in my family all have beautiful babies so we could make some really knock out gorgeous babies.

Sent by Maggez | 7:48 PM | 6-7-2008

KartoffMuter says: "If it was a story connected to ANYBODY but Clay there would be no snark."

New to the BPP, are you? I'm pretty sure you're mistaken on that point.

Here's my attempt. It's short on facts but it's got the puns, alliteration, and cliches one expects from a respected newsmagazine like People:

Friends Not Flummoxed by Aiken's Forthcoming Fatherhood!

Clay's achin' heart wanted kids and he'll soon have one. The proud popstar pop-to-be and his good friend Jaymes Foster are looking forward to starting a friendship-based family and fostering a new life.

Buddies and blood relations alike have only kindness and congratulations to offer. As the first child of mirthful Mom and dutiful Dad, the new moppet is sure to be top tot for both!

Sent by Maura | 10:18 PM | 6-7-2008

Leaving alone the previous digs you've had about reading People, I feel so much better about my performance objectives I wrote for my job. In my case, at least, only my supervisor read it.

BTW, didn't Terry Gross use a People magazine article in her interview against --I mean with-- Bill O'Reilley? I'd walk out, too, given this as your source text.

Sent by Matthew Scallon | 1:20 AM | 6-8-2008

OMG. Why are you reading People??????

Sent by Nathan in Holland | 10:17 AM | 6-9-2008

So, I promised I would share my re-written graph, here it is:

According to friends, Clay Aiken and a 50 year old music producer are having a child through artificial insemination. No word on if they are romantically involved.

That skirts the issue just as well as the original graph, dontcha think?

Sent by Matt Martinez-NPR | 5:43 PM | 6-9-2008

Clay Aiken is from North Carolina....can we finally disown him now?

Sent by Julie | 1:11 PM | 6-10-2008

@Matt Martinez: Yes, but where are your arrows on the photo?

Sent by Marc Naimark | 8:55 AM | 6-12-2008

I don't believe this 'story' until Clay himself speaks.

Sent by Zhandra | 1:49 PM | 7-16-2008

Support comes from: