Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Silly Season Thrillers

August arrives with a dandy metaphor about the difference between the old journalism and the new--the New York Times' record-setting number of errors in reporting Walter Cronkite's death juxtaposed against a blog frenzy over the news of a Sarah-Todd Palin divorce.

Even for this traditional month of fake and flaky news, it's an impressive start. The Times Public Editor tells us all, maybe more than we want to know, about seven corrections in what the newspaper printed about the man who nightly told America "That's the way it is," in the course of which we learn that "a television critic with a history of errors wrote hastily and failed to double-check her work, and editors who should have been vigilant were not."

Comforting as it is to learn that the Paper of Record is still so zealous about accuracy, public flogging of staff members may strike other journalists as cruel and unusual punishment in the name of retroactively covering institutional ass.

Such MSM fallibility and stodginess has to be juxtaposed against the weekend's sensation, an Alaska blogger's report that Sarah Palin has thrown her wedding ring into a lake and is moving out on Todd to Montana.

This virtually fact-free "story" is being Googled and gaped over around the digital world, leaving traditional journalists the luxury of repeating the details while holding their noses and dutifully covering themselves by citing the former governor's denials.

And that's the way it is on the first weekend of August 2009.

1 comment:

Yellow Dog Don said...

After reading the NY Times corrections, I expected the last sentence to be something about "The taffy pulling contest at Peter's house."