Archive for the 'Journalism' category

The currency of science news

Ok, I take the point that journalism should not only talk about science upon the publication of a paper. 


Science news can be much more fluid and the semi-public knowledge of a finding precedes formal publication.

But if there is a paper then it should be cited. Not merely linked obscurely, but properly cited
Scientists have been complaining about the failure of journalists to cite papers associated with their science news stories for ages. Ed knows this as well as anyone in science journalism. So I am confused as to what he is about here.

16 responses so far

Brian Williams, Bill O'Reilly and the RealProblemTM with the alleged profession of journalism

Feb 23 2015 Published by under Alleged Profession, Journalism

Brian Williams' evolving story..

"We". "Our". "in front of us". "all four of our low-flying Chinook took fire"

Bill O'Reilly's alleged war journalism story has been covered by David Corn who details how O'Reilly uses terms like "active war zone", "combat situation" and "I've been there".

What really chaps my hide is not that Brian Williams eventually conflated* all of his reporting in his own mind into it being the helicopter he was riding in that took a hit from a RPG. It is not the fact that eventually, at one point, O'Reilly directly conflates** his presence reporting the Argentine / GB conflict from Buenos Aires with the actual combat operations in the Falklands by saying "a war zone situation, in Argentina, in the Falklands".

What I deduce from all the he said/ she said is that Williams was indeed flying around in a Chinook when one of them in the group got hit by RPG. This appears to have been miles away from the chopper Williams was in and they were all ordered down to the ground for related or unrelated safety issues. It also seems reasonable that perhaps the chopper Williams was in was hit by the odd AK-47 round.

O'Reilly, it seems, was in Buenos Aires and never in the Falklands, over a thousand miles away. He was probably in a street protest. Probably, there were armed authorities, either police or soldiers present at the street protest. It may or may not have been a threatening and frightening situation to each individual journalist but there is no evidence of authorities firing on civilians to any large extent.

With this understanding of the probable facts, go back and look at how Williams AND O'Reilly carefully parse their words. You can see how carefully they select the words they use to describe things, how tenderly they craft their story to generate a false impression without actually lying. They want you to come away from their reporting with a feeling that they were deep in the danger. In O'Reilly's case, he seems mostly to deploy this for the purpose of bolstering his war-time correspondent journalism street cred, long after the primary reporting was done.

No matter.

This speaks to how the professional journalist type views the ethics and acceptable behaviors of their profession.

It is perfectly okay, even desirable, to create an entirely false image in the minds of their audiences just so long as they do not directly tell a clear falsehood. That is what their ethics hinges upon....whether it can be proved they told a lie. Creating a lie in the ear of their audience by using words that are not, strictly speaking, false? That's perfectly okay. Williams and O'Reilly are only being criticized now because they slipped over the line and said something that was directly falsifiable on the face of their words. Not because they carefully selected superficially true statements to create a false narrative in the mind of their audiences.

This is my problem with journalism.

*aha! gotcha.

**aha! gotcha.

27 responses so far