Credulity does not suit journalists or our audiences. We’ve moved from believing something because “I read it in the paper” to “I heard it on the radio” to “I saw it on the Internet.” It’s never so dangerous as when a comment or story is credible. It makes sense. It’s the kind of thing that What’s His Name would say. Long before the Internet, people were inventing or repeating quotes and attributing them to famous people to add authority to their arguments.
Spreading cancellations of Associated Press memberships could leave our premier international news service unable to maintain its breadth and quality. AP is the major source of international news in our daily papers and any diminution will degrade our already dismal understanding of events beyond our borders. About 100 papers gave two-year cancellation notices to the AP in recent weeks; whether they're negotiating ploys in a fee dispute or rethinking of news priorities is unclear.
A consistently bright spot in any presidential election is the negative print and broadcast ads. Attacking an opponent’s performance and proposed policies is wholly appropriate. I wish there were more. But many attack ads are so toxic, so distorted that they’ve become an art form of their own noxious kind. A valuable corrective to political bullshit is the nonprofit, nonpartisan factcheck.org.
God, I hate presidential election years. Ignore my general lack of success at picking a winner or tossing the rascals out, but the seemingly endless “silly season” doesn’t begin to describe the quadrennial misery. And I’m not even talking about the TV campaign ads.
First, some facts. Advertising supports most newspapers. Advertising in daily papers is slipping dangerously. Now, some thoughts. Dailies have been dying for decades, and the situation is similar for weeklies and "local" radio stations.
A tenet of ethical reporting is to verify information not personally known to the reporter. That's true even if -- especially if -- a public official, a public figure or a syndicated columnist makes a claim of public concern.