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Unformatted text preview: Truth and Verification Truth and Verification
Journalism’s First Obligation Is to the Truth How Journalists Pursue the How Journalists Pursue the Truth Newsweek’s Quran Report Leads to 15 Deaths, then is Retracted Because of Faulty Information Truth and Verification Truth and Verification “The desire that information be truthful is elemental. Since news is the material that people use to think about the world beyond themselves, the most important quality is that it be usable and reliable.” What Do Journalists Mean By What Do Journalists Mean By Truth? • Is getting the facts right the truth?
• Is being ‘objective’ the same thing as being truthful? • Is being ‘fair’ the same thing as being truthful? • Is there one truth we can all agree What Is Truth?
‘A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on.’
Winston Churchill What Is Truth?
‘Often the surest way to convey misinformation is to tell the strict truth.’
Mark Twain What Is Truth?
‘There can be no liberty for a community which lacks the information by which to detect lies.’
Walter Lippmann What Is Truth?
‘What I tell you three times is true.’ Lewis Carroll What Is Truth?
‘Truthiness’* Stephen Colbert *‘The quality of stating concepts or facts one wishes or *‘The quality of stating concepts or facts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.’ Journalism and Science Like scientists, journalists do not believe in Like scientists, journalists do not believe in absolute truth. Truth is provisional. It changes over time. Journalism and Science Like scientists, journalists strive for a pragmatic Like scientists, journalists strive for a pragmatic truth, a truth that helps explain the world and Journalism and Science Like science, journalism employs Like science, journalism employs a system of peer review. Journalism and Science Like the scientific method, the journalistic Like the scientific method, the journalistic process of verification relies on a system Journalistic truth is the best obtainable Journalistic truth is the best obtainable version of the truth on any given day. Journalistic Truth It is a continuing journey toward understanding . . . which begins on the first day of a story and builds over time. The practical truth is a protean thing which, like learning, grows as a stalagmite in a cave, drop by drop over The Lesson for the News Consumer Follow Follow the Story Over Time The Verification Process How Journalists Pursue the Truth A process that takes newsworthy A process that takes information and checks its credibility and reliability before it is published or broadcast as news. The Verification Process The Verification Process
•Journalists Gather, Assess, and Weigh Information •Journalists Add Meaning to Facts Through Context and Balance •Journalists Explain How They Know What They Know – and What They Don’t Know*
*This is called “Transparency.” How Journalists Pursue the Truth How Journalists Pursue the Truth Direct Evidence Direct Evidence
•Eyewitnesses •Documents and Records •Photographs and Videos How Journalists Pursue the Truth Indirect Evidence Indirect Evidence i.e. Government Spokesmen, Police Officers, Interested Third Parties, etc. •Secondary Sources •Other Press Accounts Direct Sources: Direct Sources: • Driver of Car • Eyewitnesses
• Breathalyzer Report • Driving Anatomy of a Car Accident How Journalists Pursue the Truth Records • Accident Reports for the Road Indirect Sources: • Lawyer for Driver • Campus Police • University Officials • Friends and Relatives of Victims • Family of • Students on Driver Campus Sources 2) Authoritative Sources Better Than Uninformed Sources 3) Independent Sources Are Better Than SelfInterested Sources 4) Sources Who Verify Are Better Than Sources Who Assert 5) Multiple Sources Are Better Than Single Sources Judging the Reliability of Sources 1) Named Sources Are Better Than Unnamed How Journalists Pursue the Truth How Journalists Pursue the Truth Lesson #2 for the News Consumer
Evaluate Sources Evaluate Sources Evaluate Sources Evaluate Sources Five Questions the Reporter Should Have Asked
1) How do you know that? 2) Did you see it? 3) Who told you this? 4) Are you 100 per cent sure it happened? 5) Who else can confirm this? How Journalists Pursue the Truth How Journalists Pursue the Truth How Journalists Pursue the Truth How Journalists Pursue the Truth Why the Process Breaks Down
∙ Bad Information Bad Information ∙ Incomplete Reporting Incomplete Reporting ∙ Time Constraints Time Constraints ∙ Sloppiness and Confusion Sloppiness and Confusion ∙ Difficulty in Getting to the Truth Difficulty in Getting to the Truth (Reporting is Hard) Lesson #3 for the News Consumer
Always ask: Always ask: Did the Reporter Open the Freezer? Main Lessons So Far . . Main Lessons So Far . . . •Find the Journalism Neighborhood
•Distinguish Between News and Opinion •Follow a Story Over Time •Evaluate the Source, Evaluate the Source, Evaluate the Source •Always Ask: Did the Reporter Open the Freezer? ...
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This note was uploaded on 02/02/2010 for the course JRN 101 taught by Professor Schneider during the Spring '07 term at SUNY Stony Brook.
- Spring '07