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Journalism

Transformation in channels of news delivery and the ascendence of the blogger-reporter raise challenges for citizens and the Republic. The JUST Journalsim Section examines the nascent obligations of those who shape public opinion and purvey "news" in emerging media.

Marty PerlmutterPatricia Mendoza

Monday
Aug272012

A New Age for Truth

Craig Silverman
Nieman Reports, Summer 2012

In a handbook for aspiring journalists published in 1894, Edwin L. Shuman shared what he called one of the "most valuable secrets of the profession at its present stage of development."Join the conversation on twitter using the hashtag #NRTruth

He revealed that it was standard practice for reporters to invent a few details, provided the made-up facts were nonessential to the overall story.

Truth in essentials, imagination in nonessentials, is considered a legitimate rule of action in every office…The paramount object is to make an interesting story.

A reporter following Shuman's advice today would likely find his fabrications swiftly exposed on social media. Bloggers would tally offenses and delve deeper. People with firsthand knowledge of the story in question might step forward with photos and videos to contradict the invented details. Media watchdogs, press critics, and others would call out the reporter and his employer.

In the same vein, a politician or public figure who publicly asserts a falsehood is likely to be called out by fact-checking organizations such as FactCheck.org and PolitiFact.

Never before in the history of journalism—or society—have more people and organizations been engaged in fact checking and verification. Never has it been so easy to expose an error, check a fact, crowdsource and bring technology to bear in service of verification.  Read more…

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