June 30, 2003

Check it Out

Tim Porter tells us that the media is under using one of the basic tenets of journalism:

� Check it out. And that seems to be the culprit behind many of today's journalism scandals - as a well the perception by the public that the press is not paying attention. They're not checking it out enough. Jayson Blair - check him out. George Bush - check him out. Weapons of mass destruction - check them out.
Tim was reminded of this when reading . . . Bring Back the Skeptical Press by Gilbert Cranberg in yesterday's Washington Post. Cranberg takes the media to task for not checking the facts:
The Bush administration has been taking heavy flak for its as yet unproved claims about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. In fixing blame for the way the public appears to have been sold a bill of goods, don't overlook the part played by the media. Instead of closely questioning the administration's case, the nation's newspaper editorialists basically nodded in agreement.
Read the piece for Cranberg's analysis of editorial response to Colin Powell's WMD presentation to the Security Council. Sometimes trying to be current and timely can be a disservice to your constituency:
but the downside of instant analysis is the scant time it leaves for careful reporting and reflection. I learned in my many years of editorial writing to follow I.F. Stone's prudent advice to read texts and not to rush to judgment. None of these publications evidently realized, or noted, how Powell had embellished some facts, although that is readily apparent from a close reading of his text.

If the first casualty of war is truth, the media will need to be a lot more skeptical and alert to minimize the toll on truth.

I'm not a journalist and haven't absorbed basic tools of the trade like 'check it out.' But I'm learning them and this means that my posts are often taking me longer to write then when I started blogging. I've learned that anything that has a fact in the text needs to be verified: sometimes the fact is just right, other times my memory served it up wrong and once in a while I fat finger the keyboard.

Via The Rhetorica Network Posted by Steve on June 30, 2003

follow me on Twitter