Saturday, September 8, 2012

When did journalism and fact checking separate?

By Jeff

Anyone else notice a strange happening going on in the media? No, not that thing where networks like Fox News and MSNBC are the most popular cable news networks because they promote partisan hackery. That is old news.

The strange happening I am talking about is the rise of the all powerful fact checkers. We have,, The Fact Checker for the Washington Post and countless others. These Web sites and individuals look at what is being said in the political world and determine if these statements are true or not.

While I like that these resources exist, it's strange that they have to. From my understanding of journalism, it is the responsibility of the reporters and editors of the news media to check facts and hold people accountable when they lie to the media and the American people. But at some point, journalists seemed to have stopped doing this. They let political candidates and their supporters spout lies. They don't point out in their stories that these statements are actually false. They just get their quote and go on their way.

Look back at the Republican National Convention for a perfect example. Vice president candidate Paul Ryan told some lies in his speech. Some of the news organizations covering the event (I'm looking right at you, Wolf) knew that he was lying. They mentioned on the air that some of the things Ryan said sounded false. But instead of them informing the viewers about the truth, they said they would leave it to the fact checkers.

Are you friggin' kidding me! You're supposedly journalists! It's you're job to report the facts. If a man, especially a vice presidential candidate, is lying, you call him out and educate the audience to the truth.

To be fair, there are plenty of real journalists out there who understand their responsibility and do great work. Unfortunately, these folks aren't as popular or big personalities.

Sure, the Internet had a lot to do with the decline of traditional media, but maybe these editors, publishers and producers need to look in the mirror and realize that they have become part of the problem too. Our watch dogs have turned from dobermans to greyhounds. You see, greyhounds are known as the 30-mile-per-hour couch potatoes. If there is a furry creature a greyhound will sprint after it without thinking twice. But when they are not racing after rabbits, they are sitting around doing nothing.

Kind of like many of the popular media today. When they have a juicy story, they chase it and report on it with all kinds of enthusiasm, even when said story is a silly as that Chick-Fil-A garbage. And they do it until the story is utterly exhausted. But then they are crazy lazy when it comes to other stories. They don't ask tough questions out of fear as being labeled bias, unless it's Fox News, then they embrace the fact they are bias (Well, or they are just lazy and don't care. It's hard to tell.). They sit back and let other people (fact checkers) do their jobs.

Fortunately, much of what our elected officials do and say are public record. We as good citizens don't have to rely on journalists or fact checkers to see if we're being lied to. We just need to have open minds and get off our asses. Whether we are liberal or conservative, but we need to recognize that not everything our side says is true.

Weezer - Tragic Girl