Friday, August 15, 2008

Tacit Admission Without a Formal Correction?

1/30/09 Update:

1) On 12/11/08, the NBER declared a recession began in December, 2007.

2) This declaration was very controversial.

3) In my opinion, this was a declaration driven more by political considerations than economic considerations. I don’t dispute that we are now in a recession. I dispute when it began.

4) Anyone who thinks this controversial declaration from the NBER vindicates the “journalistic sins” I describe below does not understand the first thing about journalistic standards (which no longer exist).

End of update.

Last March, SP&T committed the journalistic “sin” of embedding opinion inside straight news by describing:

“The recession of the national economy”
Today, SP&T seems to have backed off of that assertion and now describes a:
“weakened economy”
Is this a tacit admission that SP&T was out of line last March? If so, why not admit the mistake and publish the correction? As far as I can tell, SP&T has not yet done so.

The data suggest that it is currently objectively and quantitatively accurate to describe a “weakened economy”. The same data suggest that it is a virtual certainty that the economy was NOT in a recession at the time that SP&T declared, in a “straight news” entry, that it was.

Does SP&T intend to wait until the NBER declares the next recession before admitting their mistake? Will they even admit it then?

Again, the primary journalistic “sin” was the stealth embedding of opinion inside “straight news”. That alone warranted the printing of a correction. The data increasingly suggest that a correction may now be needed for having printed a blatant falsehood!

The longer SP&T delays, the greater will be the tarnish on (in my view) their already soiled reputation.

Oh, did I mention that SP&T banned me from their Reader Forum (apparently for the “thought crime” of daring to challenge their editor on this topic)?

Click the image and read my original commentary:
Click the image and read my original commentary
Remember, the cover-up is always worse than the crime!
The professional thing to do would be to admit the mistake.


Steamboat Lion said...

Choices, choices. Let me see. Tomorrow I could argue with our small town paper about journalistic standards or I could go out to the county fair and wrestle a pig. Think I'll go to the fair. Yes, I'll get dirty, but at least the pig and I will have fun...wasting your time SBVOR. Move along, nothing to see here.

SBVOR said...

Steamboat Lion,

My choice, not yours.

But, thanks for the advice.

Personally, I think exposing failures in journalistic integrity is a VERY important matter. In fact, given the impact that such failures have on the entire world, I would say there is nothing that is more important (even when it comes to our “small town paper”).