2005/11/20

Credibility and groups

Really good piece in DailyKos about a media person who says in an interview that a copy desk is a critically-necessary resource for a reporter and how she would have been lost without a editor to oversee her work and provide advice and guidance. I agree with Armando (The writer on this piece) that yes, an editor is indeed a valuable resource for a lot of people, and probably a necessity for just about everybody who's starting out, but an editor is no guarantee that a story will be done right. In fact, Armando cites whole institutions who just took the uncorroborated word of just one side's lawyer in a case and who never even bother to look up the original interview that the allegation is based on. Sloppiness is hardly something that only individuals are guilty of and that automatically disappears in groups.

Of course, it could also be that these groups have agendas like "Gee, we've been awfully tough on this guy lately, let's give him a break and 'interpret' this story in a way that makes him look good." The effect is the same. Stories get altered and told incorrectly because of hidden agendas or sheer sloppiness, in both cases shortchanging the American citizen of an honest telling of the story.

The New York Times just finished up the case of Judith Miller, a reporter who posted numerous stories to the front page about Saddam Hussein's [snark] evil, awful, scary Weapons of Mass Destruction that constituted an obvious and growing threat to the good ol' US of A [/end snark]. The Times clearly had many agendas behind their giving free reign to "Miss Run-Amok" (Her term, amazingly enough), and regaining credibility with the Republicans who were jumping up and down and banging their fists on the table in support of a war with Iraq seems to have been a pretty major motivation. We don't know this, of course, as no one has gone on record to confirm that and they probably will not for several decades.

Of course, lest anybody get the impression that I'm romanticizing individuals as always being better than organizations, there are the real amateur who just have no clue.

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