Katherine Kersten manipulates quote in column on Grand Theft Auto IV


Letter writer Joshua Nichols points out some selective editing by Strib conservative lightning rod Katherine Kersten in her recent column on Grand Theft Auto IV.

In the column, Kersten writes:

"[T]eenage boys of America," wrote one reviewer, "... you can still kill and maim and plunder and screw until your heart is full," but now "the violence is no longer cartoonish." Thanks to GTA IV's new realism, when G-stringed strippers grind the main character's lap, the player's controller vibrates in response.

But if you run the phrase "can still kill and maim and plunder and screw" through a Google search, you'll find the source material, this Slate column. As you'll see from reading the full quote in context, Kersten used some selective editing to remove portions that were inconvenient to her conservative orthodoxy.

Yes, concerned teenage boys of America, if your parents are irresponsible enough to let you get your hands on this, you can still kill and maim and plunder and screw until your heart is full. But there's a difference this time: The violence is no longer cartoonish. Shoot an innocent bystander, and you see his face contort in agony. He'll clutch at the wound and begin to stagger away, desperately seeking safety. After just scratching the surface of the game—I played for part of a day; it could take 60 hours to complete the whole thing—I felt unnerved. What makes Grand Theft Auto IV so compelling is that, unlike so many video games, it made me reflect on all of the disturbing things I had done.

This isn't the first time Kersten has selectively edited other journalists' work in service to her conservative agenda--she also borrowed liberally from a student newspaper for her recent expose on a sex-positive club at the U of M. Check out this letter from a former editor at the Minnesota Daily:

Dear Ms. Kersten,

Last I checked the Minnesota Daily is a real newspaper organization and If I'm not mistaken Ms. Kersten, you get paid to write articles for the Star Tribune, are a Star Tribune representative, and in turn the Star Tribune profits off advertisement when readers read your column. Your article regarding the U's student group is nearly filled with quotations from the Minnesota Daily article. While you do cite your source and note that no one was available to comment, I find your actions to instead steal another reporter's work and print it under the guise of your work to be the borderline of plagiarism. You are not writing a blog for the internet Ms. Kersten, you are getting paid as a writer. In this instance I find your ethics to be less than desirable and that the Daily has a probable legal challenge against you and the Star Tribune. When the Star Tribune is not able to reach someone for comment, it does not begin aimlessly posting quotes from the New York Times or the Chicago Tribune. I find your actions to plagiarize a lesser newspaper in poor taste and ethically concerning. No link was even provided to the original article plagiarized.

Secondly, your article did not state whether any of those quoted consented to being printed in your article, especially since their words were maliciously modified and coerced. You also included a quote from a University student who is not even directly related to the student group in question, that you did not obtain yourself. This complete disregard of the sources providing you quotes in the first place is a very grave concern. Sources must be treated with the utmost dignity and especially when you did not obtain them or authorize them yourself.

As a former Minnesota Daily editor who has worked tirelessly to truly bring a credible news product to the Twin Cities, your actions are a very arrogant, dismissive and cowardly slap in the face to the hard work of our student reporters who are paid to do real reporting. I would ask you kindly apologize to the reporter in which you have so audaciously stolen from her and print a retraction and apology to the people in question. Unfortunately the Star Tribune has already begun profiting off your stolen work, that cannot be returned to the Daily. The media landscape is not a playground, there are rules to live by and are likely spelled out in your contract Ms. Kersten. There is an ethical standard the press is held to (yes even columnists).

Sincerely and with urgency,

CC: Star Tribune corrections Star Tribune editor MN Daily Newsroom MN Daily Editor Queer Student Cultural Center Genevieve Clute Courtney Sinner

Is there any other journalist in town that gets away with this kind of behavior? (Besides C.J.)