Why we must check everything the media reports

A short tale from Bishop Hil about a 2008 Daily Telegraph article by Rosa Prince, in which she reported:

The UK is to be hit by regular malaria outbreaks, fatal heatwaves and contaminated drinking water within five years because of global warming, the Government has warned the NHS.

Following a major consultation with climate change scientists, the Government is issuing official advice to hospitals, care homes and institutions for dealing with rising temperatures, increased flooding, gales and other major weather events.

The reality, as Bishop Hill reveals, is rather different.  The message is clear, do not take what you hear in the news media at face value until you have personally uncovered and checked the facts.

8 Responses to “Why we must check everything the media reports”

  1. 2 maureen gannon 02/09/2011 at 10:08 am

    I am still waiting for the Ice Age we were promised in the fifties .

  2. 3 Junkk Male 02/09/2011 at 10:11 am

    These days, I’d go further.

    Whilst still of value in initiating any topic, the MSM must now be considered suspect on agenda or tribal terms with even quite mundane stories, and one massive area is now editorial by omission.

    So I also check for what is NOT mentioned, from legitimate counters to quoted claims, to the less than irrelevant back story to many expert of ‘member of public’ guests.

    And I am now noticing that even if some form of response is possible on complementary blogs, many (esp. Graun CiF and the BBC) have modding policies that amount to propaganda censorship in support of their favoured narratives.

    Even if well and truly nailed, the few who might also surf such areas will probably never learn of a howler.

  3. 4 LJHills 02/09/2011 at 11:00 am

    While I accept that, to turn a profit, newsrooms have reduced both the quantity and quality of sceptical journalists, cut and paste articles should be sourced back to the PR release of whatever advocacy group and labelled as such. Statistical probability and confidence limits are left out and the most alarmist (and unlikely) hypotheses are most likely to find column space : the public needs to have these articles flagged as kiteflying rather than fact. In the long term, not doing this undermines confidence in the MSM and will hasten its demise as thinking readers lose patience.

  4. 5 Stuck-Record 02/09/2011 at 12:10 pm

    I drive my wife nuts when we watch the TV news. I call out the ‘source’ of each story as it comes up. Once you know about churnalism and PR it is impossible to watch the news without spotting the obviously planted stories.

    eg. The other day the media obediently lit up like a xmas tree about the fall in future home ownership. Now, I wonder who pushed that story..?

    The BBC London news is the worst. The number of arts stories they have that are clearly plants from friends of someone in the production team is just breathtaking.

  5. 6 hro001 03/09/2011 at 2:18 am

    The message is clear, take what you hear in the news media at face value until you have personally uncovered and checked the facts.

    Surely, this is part of the problem, AM … and that you really intended to say:

    The message is clear, do not take what you hear in the news media at face value until you have personally uncovered and checked the facts.


  6. 7 Brian H 03/09/2011 at 7:01 am

    “take at face value” is irrelevant after you’ve checked the facts. I think he said what he meant to say. Give the MSM the benefit of the doubt until disproved.

    Really stupid advice.

  7. 8 Autonomous Mind 03/09/2011 at 10:18 am

    Good spot. More haste less speed when proofing in future. Thanks for that HRO.

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