I read with some amusement the New York Times piece that took a closer look at factual reporting in the digital era we now live in. Ironically, or maybe not so ironically, it is the facts that my editor here at Huffington Post will check or they just won't post my piece. Anyone who blogs for Huffington Post knows you better hyperlink your facts or no one will ever read it. That's the policy here.
John Cook from Gawker says it was impossible to vet all of their articles. And growing up in the PR industry for the past 30 years, I can clearly see that to be the case. John is just being perfectly honest. He knows. The faster the internet goes, the faster misinformation can be spread. My anecdotal perspective is that we were at warp speed several years ago. Now what?
This isn't a new topic at all. In 2006 I read a great piece in The Hill called "Facts versus truth in reporting." You try to figure out what happened in 2004 when the "Swift boat controversy" changed an election. Most journalists don't want to be referees. Many report what is being said. Small detail that John Kerry's chief accuser was John O'Neil. He said that "Swift boats never ventured in Cambodia," yet there is a tape in the Nixon library where he says his own Swift boat did? Net: he either lied to the oval office or on national tv. Anyone even remember? That fact stick with you a couple of elections later? Same guy is Secretary of State now.
We always hear about media bias and conspiracy theories. I appear fairly regularly on MSNBC and on Fox and if there is a conspiracy brewing, no one gave me the memo? My opinion is my opinion based on the facts I believe to be true. I'm biased. I voted for Obama. I believed he was the best candidate. How smart was I?
I thought OJ was guilty the first time. The jury didn't. I had my doubts about Bill Clinton's sexual behavior in the oval office, as much as I like and respect him. Where exactly are those "weapons of mass destruction" that we all went to war over? And now even 60 Minutes is apologizing for getting the facts wrong about Benghazi. I bought into "Yes, we can"...but it turned out to be a great tagline or as the compliance department would say in a publicaly held company a "forward looking statement".
Paul Walker did actually die in a car accident. President Obama never did declare November to be Muslim Appreciation Month. Nor did the White House declare that in 2013 Christmas tree's should be referred to as "Holiday trees." And now we have Yahoo saying that PR specialists will replace reporters?
I'm a PR guy. Trust me...you want real reporters, not pr people writing history. While Pew Research has from time to time said that press accuracy isn't what it once was...I'd counter by saying, it never was. We just believed Walter Cronkite because it was one of three channels. Now there is no limit. Real world. Virtual world. When Newsweek went digital, you have to know that a lot of news is coming to us in different ways now. It's not just a thousand channels to pick from on your cable box. It's not the magazines you subscribe to. It's not your morning newspaper. Even though it may surprise you to hear that 56 percent of millennials regularly read newspapers. Don't count on your google alerts or favorite internet news site. It's all of these sources combined. Pick yours carefully. You should check the facts. My editor will. Trust me. But don't let me be your only source.