Reporting Reputation - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Reporting Reputation

The always insightful Tyler Cowen questions what it means when a popular source of information (Wikipedia) is unverified and likely inaccurate. Noting that professional journalists can be prone to the same sloppy reporting, he asks:

What does journalistic fact-checking consist of in the first place? Sometimes the fact-checker calls up an interview source and asks him or her direct questions. Otherwise the fact-checker sees if the stated claim can be found in some published book, magazine, or perhaps in a refereed academic journal. Fact-checking can’t be any more reliable than these underlying sources.

One thing omitted from the entire piece, however, is the reliability of the writer as well. For example, no one will fact-check Robert Novak’s sources, primarily because he’s… Robert Novak. And blogs have done an excellent job of debunking some of the pomp of mainstream outlets.

My point is that Internet resources aren’t entirely seen as unreliable. It’s the anonymity (and free registration) that makes Wikipedia such a crapshoot. Those that buy their own domains, establish an online identity, have a reputation to protect, and suddenly, we’re back in the world of straining for journalistic credibility. This doesn’t apply to all bloggers, but heck, it doesn’t apply to all journalists either — gossip journalism hasn’t lost its audience despite a glaring disregard for fact-checking.

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