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Friday, March 11, 2011

People Said Stuff, Reports New York Times

A great analysis of the harm done by modern media when it's objectivity results in "he said, she said" reporting.

"At House EPA Hearing, Both Sides Claim Science."
And it's true! Both sides did claim science. For paragraph after paragraph, Broder dutifully transcribes who said what, this side's scientists and that side's scientists, this guy's zinger and that guy's zinger. At no point in the story is there a hint that there might be facts of the matter behind the dueling quotes, that one set of assertions might be supported by more evidence than the other, that one set of scientists might have more credibility than the other. At no point in the story is there a fact about the world -- the only facts are that people said stuff.

David Roberts, the author, goes on to note that a new study provides evidence to back up the claim that this kind of reporting reduces reader's understanding of the subjects being discussed. 

What's the truth?  The media doesn't often help you find out.

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