October 27, 2005

Newswriting Ch. 4-5

ďThe point weíre trying to make here may be less obvious. Itís not that two bits of data can contradict one another; itís that the same bit of data can be read in (at least) two ways. For understandable reasons, press accounts generally provide not only the data but also the conclusion to be drawn from the data. Thatís fine as far as it goes. But the problem is that news stories often donít probe deeply enough, so they donít show how the data are amenable not only to one ďobviousĒ reading, but also to a second, less apparent reading that can draw a radically different conclusion from the same data.Ē (It Ainít Necessarily So, pg. 86)

It is important when reading the news to carefully disseminate fact from fiction. It is not that the presentation of facts so much turns to fiction, or the news is made up, it is just that sometimes facts that are chosen are not represented fairly and made to stand on their own on a one sided mess. Also, reporters use facts to support their own claims, making them hold water, so to speak, for the conclusions they want to draw and portray. This doesnít strip the fact of its validity; it just weakens the report because the facts are then foot soldiers in a war with op-ed. It is also important to realize that as newspaper readers we must be cautious in what is being presented to us. Newspapers are disposable because they are only meant for once-overs, not to be kept like books. In our reading of the papers, we must decipher exactly what is going on and be an educated consumer culture, rather than one that mindlessly believes the conclusions of some reporter. We have to use common sense when reading the papers; we can not just blindly trust them. And since news stories, as the quote reads, donít probe deeply enough Ė we, as the readers, must do the probing to arrive at any sound conclusions. I pose this question: who has the kind of time to go out and research for sound statistics? Newspaper reading is just an exercise in common sense.

Posted by KatieAikins at October 27, 2005 9:47 PM