You might have missed it, but this week saw an interesting discussion of the very nature of journalism. It was triggered by the New York Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane, who wrote a column asking whether reporters should challenge, examine and in some case rebut vague but untruthful statements made on their beat.
One of the examples he gave was the frequent assertion by Mitt Romney that President Obama has given speeches apologizing for the United States. This appears not to be true, wrote Brisbane, but should a reporter say that, right in his or her story? The reader comments were scornful. Hundreds wrote in to ask, in so many words, whether Brisbane was joking. Of course reporters should check the statements they report on, they said.
But media analysts like Clay Shirky saw Brisbane's point. Shriky wrote: "no paper in the United States, not even the Times ... has enough staff to express continuous skepticism about political speech."
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