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The unreliable media.

May 19, 2017

This blog often links to news stories or credits them as a source.  Sometimes they come from regional or local sources, i.e. someone’s hometown newspaper, and sometimes from the so-called big dogs, like the New York Times or the Washington Post.

Like most of us, it is assumed here that there is some actual news value and integrity to those links or quotes, or they wouldn’t be included.

That trust is hard to justify at the moment. There are just too many stories being proven false and subsequently being retracted or “updated” with completely opposite information.

Everyone understands that in the “professional” news business, readership and viewership translates into advertising dollars, whether it is an ensemble opinion show, a syndicated column or a front page news story. One of the reasons this blog does not chase advertisers or practice affiliate marketing is to keep its autonomy, but that’s not an option for a large news organization. Somebody has to meet the payroll.

But when that need supersedes journalistic integrity, it minimizes everything that the words “free press” stand for.

Take for instance today’s story from the Washington Post, again citing unnamed sources, purportedly from the Justice Department, that the FBI  is pursuing an investigation into a “senior White House official” as a ” significant person of interest” in the Russia collusion probe.

If even one syllable of that is true, then the first people to be investigated by Special Counsel Mueller had better be who in his own organization is leaking information on a criminal investigation.

If, like a lot of other breathless breaking news from WaPo, this turns out to be “fake news” clickbait, the paper should become the center of an independent investigation of its own practices.

The American people have a right to expect that along with its constitutionally mandated rights the press accept the responsibility to report honestly. That includes vetting its sources and exercising editorial discretion before printing something that impacts anything as important as the people’s faith in the presidency.

From now on, unless the sources are named in an article, this blog will identify any links as leading to “unsubstantiated reporting at….”

It’s not much, but it’s the right thing to do.

From → op-ed

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