March 5, 2009

Getting facts right and dangers to journalism

Getting the story right means getting the facts right.

On his Wed. radio show Rush Limbaugh challenged Pres. Obama to a debate on his show. Among other things he wanted to discuss was: "let's talk about sending $900 million to Hamas."


Yes, there is $900 million planned for Gaza. But let's go to the facts:
Reuters, Feb. 23: The money will be channeled through U.N. and other bodies and will not be distributed via the militant group Hamas (U.S. plans $900 million pledge for Gaza-official)
And please note that the word "official" in the headline does not refer to a Gaza official but to a State Dept. official who said the money was coming.

Limbaugh has always had a distant relationship with the truth when it got in the way of making a point. The problem is that how many of his followers will bother to check the facts? Already a handful of conservative blogs have cited this information as "fact."

For journalists, the problem also arises that too many people view what Limbaugh and other commentators do as journalism. They see no difference between the commentaries of Limbaugh and the news reporting of a street reporter.

And that lack of understanding the difference between commentary and reporting is perhaps the greatest threat to journalism.
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