Newspapers Caught In Embarrassing Snafu Over Embarrassing Journalists

from the this-is-true dept

Fact checkers? Who needs 'em? Apparently not a bunch of well-known newspapers who got caught using a 10-year-old story that had been reprinted in an online newsletter about random weird news stories (found via E-Media Tidbits). In this case, the editor of the site This Is True put together some old favorite odd news items for a December issue about a Chinese contest giving out prizes to anyone who finds errors in certain Chinese publications to try to embarrass bad journalists (yes, this is about to get ironic). At least three well-known newspapers, the Toronto Star, the Wisconsin State Journal, and the Rocky Mountain News all published the story last week without checking into the facts and finding out that it was a decade old -- raising questions about who will give out the bounty for calling out these publications. The Wisconsin State Journal (the other WSJ) ran it and credited This Is True at the bottom, so were the least "guilty" of the parties. The Rocky Mountain News (which has taken the story down), credited Reuters -- who had published the original story a decade ago. The Toronto Star, however, published the entire story word-for-word without credit and then added its own commentary based on what Randy Cassingham, the editor of This Is True originally wrote, saying that journalists can't be embarrassed. Apparently, by keeping the story up despite the facts, they're trying to prove this is true. This kind of thing happens all the time, of course -- but it is especially amusing since it's the big newspapers that always seem to be saying that blogs and other online news sources are the untrustworthy ones -- whereas they have real journalists and fact checkers and such. Just a reminder, again, that no single source is particularly trustworthy on its own.
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  • identicon
    Brewski, 3 Jan 2006 @ 11:06am

    Randy's Da Man

    Randy Cassingham and his This is True and Stella Awards sites rock. If you haven't been to his www.spamprimer.com site, go check it out now!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ZOMG CENSORED, 3 Jan 2006 @ 12:01pm

    It saddens me...

    ...When online-only news syndicates have better fact checking than actual newspaper & mainstream news syndicates. Many Canadian papers I read seem to get most of their news, not only from online sources, but weeks after it's been online sometimes.

    My father sometimes tries to start up conversation with me at the bar with these "news posts" and I always reply with "Yeah, I read that online a week or so ago." It's really a shame.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Xavier, 3 Jan 2006 @ 12:42pm

      It's the individuals, not the medium...

      It's not surprising this happened in these publicactions.
      I think it is amusing that the general public has some great expectation of papers carrying original,accurate and fact-checked content. The fact of the matter is that most papers(i.e. everyone except the WSJ,NYT,W.D.C. Post,etc.)simply rework wire copy from the AP, Reuters, BusinessWire, and other news services. I've been to dozens of newsrooms and the romantic idea of a seamless editorial review process is all but dead.
      Besides the few original local stories, most papers process copy in the following fashion:
      1.Content comes in over the wires or web--->
      2.Editor edits for legnth and localizes lead
      3.Editor improves headline
      4.Editor dumps story into content management system/directly onto page layout.
      Sound familar to most bloggers??? The process isn't much different than what you do...
      Errors get through the cracks more than anyone would like to admit. The truth of the matter is that with so many pubs laying off their editorial staffs, and bloggers becoming more organized, publishing and editing with both mediums will become more similar.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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