The Wretched State of News Reporting

Newspapers from around the worldby Leslie Jones

In bygone times, newspapers printed news stories based on triple-checked, verified facts. OpEd pieces were also based on proven, validated facts, though shaped by the well-thought-out opinions of subject matter experts.

Enter the Internet and digital reporting. For a while, the standards were the same for print and online – proven, corroborated, or witnessed actualities. Then news sources like Fox News and the New York Times, always right- and left-leaning respectively, moved even further apart on the spectrum, and their OpEd pages became less well-thought-out. The increased need for content production for the plethora of digital news outlets led to increased editorial pressure and reduced editorial oversight. We began an inevitable slide into sloppy and unsubstantiated reporting.

According to The Guardian, an anonymous reporter said, “There is definitely a pressure to churn out stories, including dubious ones, in order to get clicks, because they equal money. At my former employer in particular, the pressure was on due to the limited resources. That made the environment quite horrible to work in.” (https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/apr/17/fake-news-stories-clicks-fact-checking)

What we’re left with now are “news” articles which are not fact-checked, and which may be based on bias, opinion, and fallacious inference. Some examples:

1. http://www.wealthwire.com/news/economy/2769:

One-Percenter Leaves 1% Tip
by Brittany Stepniak, Wealth Wire
February 28th, 2012

This story went viral, picked up by CNN, Huffington Post, and numerous other outlets. It made the rounds of social media, and whipped up a frenzy against the 1%-ers. In fact, the restaurant where this supposedly took place did the research the reporters failed to do, and found out the whole thing was a Photoshopped hoax.

2. http://gopthedailydose.com/2014/04/28/photo-michelle-obama-proves-hates-democracy/

PHOTO: Michelle Obama Proves She Hates Democracy
by sophia, GOP The Daily Dose
April 28, 2014

In this instance, the “reporter” doesn’t even use her last name. What are we supposed to make of her journalistic training and objective reporting style? The referenced photo shows the First Lady joining in the fun with street music and folk dancing, not angrily waving Communist flags as this report claims.

3. http://www.dailystormer.com:

Empress Melania Attacked by Filthy Russian Kike Julia Ioffe in GQ!
by Andrew Anglin, Daily Stormer
April 28, 2016

If the headline for the article doesn’t already turn your stomach, how about this excerpt: “Unsurprisingly, the Russian kike Ioffe has made a career out of attacking Glorious Leader (EAST). She also met privately with the African dictator of America in 2014 and agreed to push Syrian war propaganda.” Is any of this even remotely true? It’s so steeped in bias it’s really hard to pull anything out of this except that Andrew Anglin is a horrible, hateful person.

And lastly, we have the world of social media, the ultimate in biased statements having little to do with facts of any sort. Where the educated meet the illiterate, the closed-minded face off against the liberal, and anonymous hacks and haters can spout their filth with zero accountability. Check out some of these, if you have the stomach for it:

1. Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy Zachary Davis was fired over Tweets comparing African-Americans in Baltimore to apes: “It’s time to start using deadly force in Baltimore. When they start slaying these ignorant young people it’ll send a message.” And then, “Baltimore the last few days = real life Planet of the Apes.”

http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/news/news/crime-law/clark-county-deputy-fired-over-tweets/nmPZ3/

2. South Carolina Republican Todd Kincannon flings insults liberally. On Nancy Pelosi: “?The Crabby C— from the California Coast? Would you prefer Nancy the Crooked Whore? More accurate, but also more words.” On transgender persons: “I have plenty of compassion for trannies. They should all be locked up in mental institutions and their care paid for by the state.”

http://www.liberalamerica.org/2014/01/28/vulgar-vile-violent-twisted-tweets-todd-kincannon/

3. Some hate-filled anonymous douchebag on Harley Quinn Smith, daughter of Kevin Smith: “You’re ugly as shit. And that steaming horse shit of a movie, yoga hosers, should be banned. Fuck your talentless cunt of a father for trying to compare it with the matrix. You’re cancer and I sincerely hope you end up like Lindsay Lohan and dead.”

To the legitimate, serious journalists out there who fact-check and verify, keep it up! You might be a dying breed, but you’re the sole reliable source for news on this planet.

To shoddy producers of questionable Internet content, please take pride in your work. Take the extra ten minutes to verify your facts before blasting them out into cyberspace. Once out, it’s out there forever.

To the cowards who hide behind anonymous Twitter handles or fake Facebook profiles, remember the New York Times rule: If you wouldn’t be comfortable with what you write being on the front page of the New York Times in 3” high letters with your real name right there for everyone to see, don’t put it on Facebook. Similarly (and probably more importantly), if you wouldn’t say it to your mother, don’t Tweet it.


Leslie's Headshot

Leslie Jones has been an IT geek, a graphics designer, and an Army intelligence officer. She’s lived in Alaska, Korea, Belgium, Germany, and other exotic locations (including New Jersey). She is a wife, mother, and full-time writer, and currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. Her books can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and HarperCollins Publishers.

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