Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The news covers the news covers the news ...

I do love it when the media gets self-referential. Now the LA Times has a story about the toll that Hurricane Katrina took on media accuracy covering the story from the NOLA Times-Picayune story I discussed yesterday about the Louisiana Superdome not being "killing floor".

Apparently it is news when the LA times reporters buy a bunch of newspapers and read those stories and then talk about how they were unsubstantiated rumors. From the article -

The New York Times repeated some of the reports of violence and unrest, but the newspaper usually was more careful to note that the information could not be verified.

The tabloid Ottawa Sun reported unverified accounts of "a man seeking help gunned down by a National Guard soldier" and "a young man run down and then shot by a New Orleans police officer."

London's Evening Standard invoked the future-world fantasy film "Mad Max" to describe the scene and threw in a "Lord of the Flies" allusion for good measure.
I think it is standard to throw in Mad Max and the Lord of the Flies allusions when referring to the world coming to and end and a breakdown of civilization.

It is all well and good to get the "truth" out now but perhaps it is now a little bit after the fact. As I have already mentioned, the press has a responsibility to check their facts before they publish not just repeat rumors. Perhaps we are going back to the good old days of yellow journalism and muckraking; fact checking be damned. Can we continue to rely on the Fourth Estate to fulfill its traditional responsibility to inform in our democracy?

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