The Facts, Not in the Flow

Jeff Jarvis:

. . . I have long believed that the real job of journalism is to add value to what a community knows — real value in the form of confirmation and debunking and context and explanation and most of all reporting to ask the questions and get the answers — the facts — that aren’t already in the flow. The journalist’s and journalism organization’s ability to do that depends on trust over traffic.

NBC’s Chuck Todd, responding to criticism that the news media has not corrected the rampant, cynical proliferation of misinformation about the Affordable Care Act:

What I always love is people say, ‘Well, it’s you folks’ fault in the media.’ No, it’s the President of the United States’ fault for not selling it.”

You see the problem here.

(The Jarvis quote is not a response to the Todd quote, it’s a reaction to a different circumstance entirely, but they sure attached themselves to each other in my mind.)

I mean, it’s a law on the books, right? The idea that it is not journalists’ responsibility to report what’s true, but simply to narrate a rhetorical contest, well, it’s nauseating. We can’t tell you the truth because one party in the battle is poor at marketing? Really?

It’s no wonder we’re as deeply un- and misinformed as we are.

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