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Response to MineralMan (Reply #32)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 06:42 PM

51. I think that is far from always true

Last edited Tue Feb 7, 2012, 10:24 PM - Edit history (1)

I am *also* an ex-journalist. This thread has been particularly nasty, in my opinion, but there's obviously back history, and so there's that.

And as an ex-journalist, I cannot disagree with your criticism of insufficiently sourced, insufficiently fact-checked, and occasionally downright factually incorrect reporting.

But this "would be a job-ender, if not a career-ender"? Are you sure about that?

As I mentioned in another thread, did you follow the coverage of Saif Gaddafi's "flight" (as best I can tell, he never really left) from Libya?

For one, the British papers that are prominently linked by google news essentially made up new stories about where he was, if he'd been captured, if he'd been shot, and so on, on a daily basis. I, apparently, incorrectly lumped the Guardian into the properly castigated junk heap, as someone pointed out that they are more reputable than I gave them credit for being. I could swear, though, that they were part of the absolute circus that was the media chasing its tail on that story. Move the Guardian to the side, and you cannot tell me that publications like The Independent and the Daily Mail should not feature drawings of spastic clowns on their mastheads.

But what was worse is that ABC online and other American publications continuously fabricated stories about the young Gaddafi's fate. And journalists have forgotten how to identify uncertainty in a story if they simply must run something - you can still have a story that says "xxxxx Group *claims* that xxxx xxxxx." Even that stab at accuracy is beyond current reporting.

I don't think a single person was fired or even reprimanded over any of the fabulist bullshit written over the course of a journalistic horror show that lasted over a month.

Let's be clear - the web has not "diluted" journalistic standards - it has obliterated them. It's a write first, apologize later world. And I also - with evidence in what I wrote directly above - want to be clear that any idea that "just bloggers" have destroyed these standards is horseshit. Mainstream outlets killed the truth. The lack of journalistic standards is what allowed Fox News to convince a particularly dippy part of our population that every fact is subject to a "but I disagree" rebuttal. On that count, don't think for a second that the New York Times didn't put a gun to the head of "things that are factually true" and pull the trigger. You let Jayson Blair happen, you let Fox News happen. It's that simple.

I'm not excusing Nadin's journalistic failings in running with a story that simply had not been properly sourced/reported. But before you go clutching the pearls for "journalism" - sorry, but those pearls are a laughable nod to modesty by an alley-trolling strumpet.

I'll give you another one: without getting into all the gory details, one decade ago, a certain not-unknown magazine ran a story that appeared under the byline of a well-regarded authority on a topical subject. There was one overwhelming flaw. That "authority" didn't write a word of the piece, never saw the piece before publication, and never even agreed to pen a story for the magazine. Sure, the editor who had claimed to be managing the freelance assignment was fired, but should that *really* have been the only person fired? Every bit of copy that appears in a publication should be fact-checked. How could you possibly claim to have fact-checked an article if you never spoke to the writer of a piece, or, in fact, never even confirmed the provenance of a piece?

Shouldn't a copy desk get fired over that one? How about the Editor-in-Chief?

One decade later, that Editor-in-Chief is still in place. No one got fired except the one editor, who deserved nothing better, but can't possibly be the only one who failed in that scenario.

Fact-checking jobs have been slashed in the industry, as though fact-checking were some sort of optional expense like "premium champagne for the Christmas party."

The web set in play events that have killed journalism, but it's not the web's fault that old media has done such a piss poor job of figuring out how to monetize its content, and it's not the web's fault that "doing away with standards" was a crazy bottom-line approach to what is really a top line problem.

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