By now, most people have heard that the fantastic Rolling Stone article on a horrific gang rape was, well, fantastic. As in made up, apparently whole cloth.
And now the press has reported on some sort of wiz-kid trader who allegedly made $72 million trading on his phone during lunch. Except some non-journalists called BS (similar to the Rolling Stone story), and it’s been walked back fairly quickly.
Then you have the wild and crazy speculation every time a tragedy occurs. It almost always starts out “half a dozen gunmen armed with uzis and riding dinosaurs!” and ends up “one disturbed guy with a couple of guns.”
Yeah, yeah, the 24-hour news cycle, everything happens too fast to fact check, blah, blah, blah. But if your job is to report facts and you don’t report facts, it doesn’t matter how fast it gets done, does it?
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Either way, my first inclination when hearing breaking news is, “Perhaps, we’ll see.” And sometimes, “Do you have any idea what you’re even talking about? Do you realize how crazy that sounds?” That, more than anything else, is why the news industry is having trouble. If your product is “what’s happening” and you can’t get that right, why would anyone buy it?
To be fair, gullibility and getting things wrong is not limited to the media. One simply has to cast a critical eye on their Facebook feed to realize some people will believe anything, and then pass it on. But it’s one thing when Aunt Joan or that guy from high school posts the unbelievable. We really ought to be able to expect more from those supposedly dealing in what has actually happened.
What do you think? Do you believe the news, or do you even pay attention to it?