I just read an article “reporting” on an Apple shareholder meeting, taking it at face value. My mistake.

I browsed a few comments and one was from a person who actually attended the meeting. It turns out the reporter did not attend. hmmm

Another comment raised the issue I want to address here, the lack of journalistic integrity.

As the 2nd  commenter remarked “reporting on reporting”, using third party sources and not even mentioning it, is questionable practice.

Let’s review what happens. You have the first party’s experience filtered by their natural biases and maybe a bad hair day (or other physical or mental discomforts) that might color their experience, recall and interpretation of what happened.

Then you have the reporters own bias, bad day, good day filters never mind the difficulty accurately retelling your experience to another leaving room for errors/interpretation.

What starts out as claiming to be news, turns into a muddled opinion piece about what might have happened and what it might mean to the two parties reporting it.

This type of reporting is now the norm, I fear. First hand accounts with minimal bias, drama or agenda are exceedingly rare.

Reporters used to report what they saw. Now they appear, too often, to fling opinions about what others saw or wrote about (who knows who saw anything).

Be cautious of your sources of information. Everyone today seems to have an opinion, but very little facts being reported to allow the reader to create their own opinion. Everyone seems to want to tell you what to think and feel about events, not just report the facts and allow you to form your own opinion.

This is a powerful lesson on “news” and “education”, whether online, print or schools.

Here is the entire comment that I found very valid and worth repeating:

http://www.fastcompany.com/1563818/apple-shareholders-meeting-steve-jobs?nav=inform-rl

February 26, 2010 at 11:49am by Chris Reich

With respect Addy I’d like to put a subject on the table in very serious need of correction. I’m tired of reporting based on second and third hand information.

Reporting on reporting compounds distortion and I believe this is a major contributing factor to the polarization of everything. When a reporter reads a report by someone else, they are getting their first taste of bias. Compound the acquired bias with their own bias and the delivered story is very different from the actual event. (See comments posted by Nancy)

Of course this story about Apple isn’t news reporting, it’s more akin to a gossip column, but still. This practice is rampant in real news reporting and it’s destructive. Rumors of rumors are reported as facts, sometimes destroying lives and igniting wars in the process.

If a story is second hand, the reporter has an obligation to say so and clearly.

How does reporting on reporting cause polarization? When people mistrust news sources, they move toward sources that they believe “tell the real truth”. This real truth is usually news that confirms what they believe. So the liberal watches Rachel Maddow for the truth and the tea bagger gravitates to Glenn Beck. Neither ‘side’ gets truth; both sides gather some inflammation, and most think they are ‘independent’ and open-minded. All the while we swim in a sea of confusion, knocked about by rogue waves and pursued by sharks.

Thanks Nancy, good reporting! [comment from person actually at the meeting]

Addy, I’m not picking on you. But I wanted to bring up the issue.

Chris Reich
www.TeachU.com

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