Thursday, October 18, 2012

The debate over fact-checking

Go here for some good food for thought on the role of fact-checking in the wake of the second Obama-Romney debate.  Should Candy Crowley have stepped in when she did?  Should reporters fact-check what politicians say on the stump -- or during debates?

Here's a taste:

...conservatives are opposing the very notion that the media should play a fact-checking role. The only conclusion is that they’d prefer to see a world in which candidates and parties get to make whatever claims they want, while journalists merely transcribe them, leaving voters to sort out for themselves which are true. Call it a free market of political attacks.

Geneva Overholser, the director of USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism, said that approach doesn’t serve the public. “It’s the journalist’s role to help the consumers of news know what the truth is,” she said.

Jay Rosen, a professor of journalism at NYU, agrees. In a long recent post on the press’s fact-checking role, Rosen urged journalists to “fight for what is true,” rather than critiquing politics as a game.

“[I]t is a regrettable loss for the polity, and for political journalism–and for the voters, the public–when dubious claims gain traction and quotes pulled from their context appear to ‘work.’” Rosen wrote. “What the press can do to prevent this is try to raise the costs of making false or misleading claims, which is the whole point of fact-checking.
It's also the point of reporting.  Journalism: not the same as stenography.  We have youtube for that.  bk

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