LAT’s Frankenbite

Tabloid Baby reports:

Scott Collins has a piece in today’s Los Angeles Times Calendar section about the Writers Guild Strike and reality show writers and is in danger of creating a factoid as he unfortunately gives the wrong definition for a production term that’s central to his thesis and occasionally "snarky" condemnation of the professionals who write and produce popular reality television shows:

…” Many of these programs are ‘written’ in the editing room by ‘story producers’ who string together hours of footage into some sort of recognizable narrative, frequently with little regard for, um, reality. Supposedly spontaneous events are staged or restaged, chronologies adjusted. Editors routinely use ‘frankenbites,’ out-of-context quotes that illustrate points the speakers never intended to make…

“…Don’t count on the guild negotiators going to the mat for folks who frankenbite.”

Frankenbite. Collins and his editors got the definition of “Frankenbite” wrong.

A Frankenbite is not an out-of-context quote. It’s a line of audio that is cobbled, stitched and patched together with words and phrases from different unrelated sentences. Just as Frankenstein was assembled from parts of different bodies.

Like this:

“The newspaper (edit) needs to (edit) make a (edit) correction (edit) before its mistake (edit) spreads and (edit) be (edit) comes (edit) a factoid.”

While “out-of-context quotes that illustrate points the speakers never intended to make” are simply dishonest, the Frankenbite is an acceptable tool– and its use is not restricted to those big bad “reality” shows. Frankenbites have been used for years in newsmagazines, news reports, documentaries, TV specials– anywhere a producer, editor and an interview subject who couldn’t make a concise point can be found.

The LA Times fact checker could have Googled “frankenbite” to find entries like Kevin Arnovitz’s Virtual Dictionary at Slate:

Frankenbite (n): An edited reality show snippet, most often found in contestant testimonials, that splices together several disparate strands of an interview, or even multiple interviews, into a single clip.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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