I’m looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge “facts” that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.
One example mentioned recently by a reader: As cited in an Adam Liptak article on the Supreme Court, a court spokeswoman said Clarence Thomas had “misunderstood” a financial disclosure form when he failed to report his wife’s earnings from the Heritage Foundation. The reader thought it not likely that Mr. Thomas “misunderstood,” and instead that he simply chose not to report the information.
Another example: on the campaign trail, Mitt Romney often says President Obama has made speeches “apologizing for America,” a phrase to which Paul Krugman objected in a December 23 column arguing that politics has advanced to the “post-truth” stage.
As an Op-Ed columnist, Mr. Krugman clearly has the freedom to call out what he thinks is a lie. My question for readers is: should news reporters do the same?
Editorial by Arthur S. Brisbane - Public Editor, The New York Times
If news organizations aren’t in the business of checking facts, then what value do they provide?
There are plenty of media outlets willing to mindlessly parrot the words of any given corporation, organization or politician (of any political persuasion). In the internet age, I can get the exact words of any speech, debate, or press release from several sources, often with video and/or audio, within about five minutes of the event.
As a news consumer I don’t need the mainstream media to simply repeat a Google search I could do on my own. Instead, I need them to apply their considerable resources to do the things I don’t have the experience or time to do myself: objectively vet these statements against all the evidence available, and present that evidence in an intelligible way.
As mainstream news organizations struggle to redefine themselves and assert their continued relevance in the internet age, shouldn’t they leap at this opportunity? Who else has the resources, the experience, the platform and the commitment to “journalistic objectivity”?
Do “journalistic objectivity” and the truth no longer intersect? If not, why should I give these news organizations any attention at all?