Washington Post Reporters Believes Bogus Police Report Over Own Editorial Aide Eye Witness And Photographic & Video Evidence
from the this-is-why-no-one-trusts-the-press dept
Via Jay Rosen we learn of the absolutely bizarre story of how a Washington Post editorial aide witnessed an altercation involving an off-duty police officer who pulled his gun on people in a snowball fight -- and the eventual Washington Post writeup on the story which completely ignored the eyewitness account of its editorial aide in favor of the claim by the police that the gun wasn't drawn. Yes, a Washington Post staffer happened to have been on the scene and witnessed the whole thing. He called it in and told a reporter about it -- but the reporter simply ignored the guy's account. As Jay Rosen notes: "Who you gonna believe? The police department or your own staffer's lying eyes?" Even worse, by the time the Washington Post put out its report, there was already photographic evidence of the drawn gun posted online, along with a video where the cop admits to pulling the gun.
Later on, the Washington Post did "update" its report, mentioning the online evidence, but waited for quite some time before finally linking to the video (and never linked to the photos). As the Washington City Paper notes about this, it's in part due to very old school media thinking:
Yet the reason why the Post screwed this up is that they all have linkophobia. If you link to an outlet---such as, God forbid, the Washington City Paper---you've lost. You got scooped and all your colleagues are going to look down on you. Linking is a huge sign of weakness---you just can't do it. Far better to, like, call a top police official, buy his version of events, and just place it in a post, regardless of the contradicting evidence that's already posted elsewhere.Remember, this is the Washington Post, that recently had a column claiming that a blog linking to a Washington Post story (multiple times) had ripped off the Washington Post. So, perhaps that explains why the Washington Post refused to link to others who had more accurate takes on the story. It didn't want to "rip them off," and preferred to get the story wrong, even though it employed an eye witness.
Take a close look at that 10:20 update on the maybe-gun-pulling cop: "The plainclothes D.C. police detective may have unholstered his pistol during the confrontation with participants in the huge snowball fight, based on video and photos posted on the Internet."
Bold and italics are mine. They're mine because this is the most cowardly, selfish, arrogant news conduct out there today. What the fuck is "video and photos posted on the Internet"? How does that help readers? It's as if I can go to www.internet.com, and there, on the first screen, will be the video and photos of the snowball fight and the maybe-gun-wielding cop. "Posted on the Internet" would be acceptable if this were 1997.
The reporters used this hazy phrasing because they were too chicken-shit to do something that we all have learned to do over the past, say, decade or more. And that's to link to competitors and acknowledge their contributions to stories.
So where are all those reporters who insist that the professional press is needed because they get this stuff right, while it's the upstarts that rush to post false claims?