Just the facts...or are they?

What are facts? We think facts are something that is true or provable. We believe that intellectual debate on the issues of the day is reasonable with both sides presenting relevant facts to bolster their point of view. We believe that even if a media outlet is unabashedly biased (I know some of the seniors have discussed the bias in Fox News and MSNBC), reasoned argument will win the day.

Unfortunately, that is NOT what is happening. Over the past few years, I have seen an alarming trend where people simply ignore fact and stick to their argument anyway. This might not be so bad when you're discussing the relative merits of a particular store at the mall and whether or not the sales people are rude, but when you have people in positions of power spouting off, it's a problem. How do you know what to believe?

Leonard Pitts, in his column yesterday, describes his recent encounter with a reader who simply did not believe the facts. The documented facts, according to the reader, were wrong. The reader knew, without a doubt, the real story and accused Pitts of lying to the public. Pitts charges that we are in trouble.
To listen to talk radio, to watch TV pundits, to read a newspaper's online message board, is to realize that increasingly, we are a people estranged from critical thinking, divorced from logic, alienated from even objective truth. We admit no ideas that do not confirm us, hear no voices that do not echo us, sift out all information that does not validate what we wish to believe. 
Read the entire column here.

Getting to the bottom of a story does not require you to become a professional journalist. Having access to information presented in a factual way is vital to democracy. Leave a comment discussing how you will inoculate yourself against unreasonable arguments and get to the heart of real issues.  How will you preserve our democracy?

NBC Olympic Coverage FAIL

Sometimes a journalist gets in a hurry and fails to do enough research on a story. Sometimes said journalists gets the information very, very wrong. I think this could be classified as an epic fail on the part of NBC's Olympic Coverage.

Watch the video clip here.

With that being said, these television personalities roasting marshmallows most likely had someone ELSE do the research (yes, there are paid researchers) and they quite possibly could have just been given a briefing on the subject rather than looking into it on their own.

What's the buzz about Buzz?

Bugged by Buzz? Yes, you can turn it off. Read this article from Lifehacker to learn how. Others are writing about the privacy concerns they have about Buzz. Check out this article that is making the rounds this morning (the article, by the way, was sent to me by a non-journalism student last night). What are your thoughts on Buzz? Like it? Hate it? Don't see the point when you have Facebook or Twitter? Media analysis and thoughtful use of media tools is part of the job of a journalist. Look at both of these articles and leave a comment here. This assignment is due not later than the end of lunch on Friday, February 12.

The Future Journalist from Mashable

What do you think? View the presentation, leave a comment. Comment on someone else's comment.

Facing the Dangers of Journalism

Last week, I read this column by Ruben Navarrette, a columnist who appears in the Contra Costa Times (you've read some of his work before). It brought to mind the recent essay assignment in class where you had to write on why it's important to have a free and independent media. For years, journalists around the world have faced danger because of their reporting, but frequently that reporting brings about public awareness and great change.

In a thoughtful comment, discuss the pros and cons of reporting in dangerous situations. Is it imperative that journalists continue to report on issues vital to public health and safety even if they put their own lives at risk? Why or why not?