Sunday, February 9, 2014

Reminder: Journalism Requires Verification

The Huffington Post's Jason Linkins makes a superb point in his review of what we witnessed as pathetic reporting on the Congressional Budget Office report on the impact of the Affordable Care Act.

As he writes, "...the media totally ganked on the story."

For the Washington press corps, it's time for basic remedial journalism education.   

1.  Journalism requires verification.

2.  Before you write about a government report, read it.

3.  When a politician claims something is true, ask for the evidence.  Ask for FACTS, not spin.

4.  Fact Check!   If Sports Illustrated had done that, it never would have done a cover story about a football player whose poor dead girlfriend never existed and 60 Minutes never would have embarrassed itself with its mistake-riddled Benghazi report and news organization after news organization wouldn't have gotten the CBO story wrong. 

Obviously, the above only applies to organizations wanting to do journalism, not to propaganda organizations or to political parties or to someone like Chuck Todd.   As Linkins writes, "the gut feelings that the CBO report generates are more important to Chuck Todd than the actual facts."   For a journalist, that's not the case.   For a journalist, facts, and verifying those facts are what's important, essential and required.

When journalism fails, really embarrassing things happen.


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