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January 23, 2012

Times Public Editor Brisbane gingerly moves to embrace more fact-checking, offers warnings; I suggest Atlantic Yards as a subject, offer examples of misleading coverage

Atlantic Yards Report

"He said, she said?" They'd both prefer truth to "news."

New York Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane, fresh off his "Truth Vigilante" exploration, yesterday gingerly surveyed the new media world of dedicated fact-checking outlets/efforts. He pronounced himself somewhat chastened:

Newspaper journalism’s traditional way of dealing with spurious claims, meanwhile, isn’t satisfying readers. Often derided as the “he said, she said” approach, this method entails finding and quoting someone to counter a claim, thereby offering a form of balance but no resolution. This sufficed in the past, for many at least, but now many readers are asking for more aggressive rebuttals.

I heard this loud and clear last week when I asked readers on my blog whether they wanted more fact-checking in straight news articles and they said, resoundingly, yes.

James Fallows, author of “Breaking the News” and a national correspondent for The Atlantic, told me it is incumbent on reporters to correct falsehood, not just balance it.
...

I posted a comment:

If the Times is going to do some non-political fact-checking, why not start with the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, where so many facts promulgated by elected officials and the developer are supremely questionable, and the newspaper too often acts as a stenographer?

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Posted by eric at January 23, 2012 1:24 PM