Friday, May 8, 2009

Don't Believe Everything You Read...Except Here!

No doubt you have all read the stories about various newspapers, major US newspapers, falling on hard times. Readership is down, advertising is down and everyone is looking for someone to blame. You often see the availability of news on the internet cited as the cause and while that may be part of the problem, maybe there is another reason as well. A reason such as maybe people are beginning to realize you just can't believe what you read in them on a regular basis.
An example, from a story in the Irish Times...
“A WIKIPEDIA hoax by a 22-year-old Dublin student resulted in a fake quote being published in newspaper obituaries around the world.
The quote was attributed to French composer Maurice Jarre who died at the end of March.

It was posted on the online encyclopedia shortly after his death and later appeared in obituaries published in the Guardian, the London Independent, on the BBC Music Magazine website and in Indian and Australian newspapers....Fitzgerald posted the quote on Wikipedia late at night after news of Jarre’s death broke. “I saw it on breaking news and thought if I was going to do something I should do it quickly. I knew journalists wouldn’t be looking at it until the morning,” he said...

The quote had no referenced sources and was therefore taken down by moderators of Wikipedia within minutes. However, Fitzgerald put it back a few more times until it was finally left up on the site for more than 24 hours.

While he was wary about the ethical implications of using someone’s death as a social experiment, he had carefully generated the quote so as not to distort or taint Jarre’s life, he said.

Fitzgerald was shocked by the result of his experiment.”

Really, he was shocked? Sadly, I am not. Journalists are getting their information from Wikipedia? Doesn't surprise me at all. But then my experience with the accuracy of newspaper stories is not too great.

I will always remember, when I was a kid, my father was the victim of a violent holdup at the business he worked at. The local newspaper, the largest newspaper in our state, published an account of the incident. Virtually every fact in the story was wrong. Names, dates, times..what happen. Unimportant stuff like that.

Recently, our local paper published a front page story about an incident involving the company I work for. Someone, a local politician, accused some of our workers of violating EPA requirements in a job they were doing. The EPA came out and investigated...and found we were doing everything correctly. Why the story, a big front page story...about nothing? Not to mention that the reporter also got the name of everyone involved wrong, not to mention that it had happened months ago, a fact not mentioned...

Sadly, you can not believe everything you read in your local...or national...newspaper. And now they are not our only source of information. Yes, with the internet, we have so many other options, often going directly to the source. So, if you start to see contradictory accounts elsewhere, or other facts that make you question the newspaper's motivation, or think you might not be getting the whole, impartial truth, you might think twice when it comes time to renew your subscription. If you are not reading, they can't sell advertising.
If the newspapers are looking for reasons their readership is down, maybe they need to look in a mirror.

Just my humble opinion...feel free to tell me if you disagree. I would love to hear if your experience is different. ;-)


  1. When I see things on TV or read them in the newspapers, and I say something to my husband, one of his standard comments is "I would expect that attitude, that periodical is totally right wing/left wing". It is pretty bad when you have to keep in mind what the political views of the periodicals are. Our local TV station drives me crazy, and at this point, I only watch it for the weather!

  2. Definitely not going to disagree with you here! Anytime I read a story about something I actually *know* about, there's something wrong with it. So I'm not jumping to trust the stories I don't know the background of either.

    Not to mention the fact that every time someone writes an article about how sad it is newspapers are dying it means they aren't writing an article that makes newspapers actually worthwhile!

  3. Great point!! One has to be careful of what they read anywhere...except here of course, lol!

  4. I agree! The news sometimes winds me up so much that I try not to watch it anymore. I normally have a quick read of the headlines, but anything more detailed than that is so often wrong/embellished that I get tired of reading it. Most of them are just scaremongering to try to make you buy their paper.

  5. no defenders of the newspapers yet? I guess we might have to get someone that works for them to hear that.

  6. i dont read newspapers because my paw span isnt big enough for the gigantic pages. i think thats why readership is going south. MAKE SMALLER PAGES!

  7. could download it to your Kindle. No doubt you have a Kindle, don't you?

  8. point


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