Saturday, October 17, 2009

Published Reports

How often have you read a news story, heard a news broadcast, or watched a "TV Journalist" refer to published reports as the source of information? It provides authenticity to the story, sounds as if the journalist might have inside information from infomred sources and in reality means almost nothing at all.
A published report used to mean that the information had been found in a newspaper or magazine and that someone in authority had read it, verified it, but wouldn't give the name of the primary source. Published report meant that someone had checked the information somewhere along the line.
Today it means nothing. I could say, according to published reports, Bill Clinton, George Bush, or Barack Obama had met with alien representatives. These were not humans, but creatures from other worlds sent here to advise our leaders. What I don't tell you is that the reports were published in The Weekly World News and they were invented by the staff because it sounded good and was a bit of fun.
I could tell you that informed sources had confirmed those published reports, but that tells you nothing either. It tells you I checked with someone else who told me that the story was accurate, but what I don't tell you is that the informed source was sitting at the next desk, writing about the Bat Boy found in a cave in Mexico.
When we start reading a story, or listening to a report on the television, if they won't tell you who said it, who confirmed it, or where it came from, but hide under high sounding language, then there just might not be anything to it.
For those who might remember, James Brady was the White House Press Secretary for President Ronald Reagan. He was wounded during the assassination attempt on Reagan. ABC News reported that he had died as a result of his wounds, but we all know that he survived. ABC News came back on and told us that they had not been reporting on rumor and that they had confirmed from four sources that Brady had died.
Well, it seems to me that if Brady was not dead, they were reporting rumors and it didn't matter how many informed sources they had to back them up. He was not dead and therefore reports to the contrary were rumor.
So, when reading the newspaper (for those few of you who still do), listen to news on the radio, see it on television, or do a combination of all that on the Internet, if they won't name names, if they won't identify sources, then be skeptical. If they had behind language such as published reports and informed sources, it might mean that they know no more than you and are reporting rumor... something good journalists would not have done in the past.

Thursday, November 13, 2008