Once in a while a great example comes along that should remind readers the media doesn't have a monopoly on the truth. Moreover, the media doesn't always practice due-diligence, often times fails to pursue objective views (in their haste to break the story), and is therefore often times just plain wrong in passing along stories that may be "what was reported" but not actually true or somehow flawed. This is irresponsible journalism and it happens all the time, probably as often as the real truth gets edited out of the copy so as not to "upset" advertisers or other members of the business and political communities that have dubious relationships with the media.
This is the story:
Minnesota trooper writes 205 mph speeding ticket
WABASHA, Minn. (AP)
This is what the reporter and every news agency that picked it up and passed it along with great expediency failed to discover before "running" with the story and which may or may not get as much exposure:
Some doubt motorcycle capable of 205 mph
September 24, 2004
http://www.startribune.com/stories/462/4998366.html (Subscription: Apparently 1 time view)
http://www.officer.com/article/artic...&siteSection=1 (Alt. Source)
Unfortunately, as readers, we're often times as guilty of and encourage the media (i.e., print/radio/TV news, entertainment, Bloggers, and otherwise) of failing to apply what should always be a wary eye on what is presented to us, whether or not we are pleased, displeased, or just plain titillated by what was reported.
And how does this play out on the boards? Kind of like this where the story is passed along with the presumption of truth....
OK wrong post- but its still 2 wheels
As does often happen, a series of readers 'scan' the article and buy-into the headline's premise or the spin, usually biased by their own view of the subject i.e., being predisposed to be for or against the premise behind the report. The reader not only assumes it to be true, but is often times far more interested in the sensational details (details worthy of the Jerry Springer Show or Dr. Phil, e.g., Deputy Sheriff's son, cost of fines, could have been killed) instead of if the story seems somehow incomplete, not quite accurate, or even credible.
Facts are usually brought to the party late and don't have the impact or interest that the original story had and thus, the damage is done or the spin gets it play in public. Moreover, being hit with the facts that throw doubt on a 'sensational story" has the same effect of throwing water on a fire and who wants to report that?
Whom does this type of reporting hurt? Anyone with concern for accurate, objective, well-researched, and credible reporting as well as real people. After all, if it turns out in this Trooper was "wrong" and miscalculated the motorcycle's speed (and that can be proven, by the way), then what's to say that EVERY ticket written for speeding by this Trooper hasn't been "wrong"? In fact, might it not call into question in a very public way the whole premise and validity behind VASCAR or stopwatch-based speed enforcement?
Bottom Line: Don't kid yourself into thinking that this kind of "infotainment" is limited to dumb kids on motorcycles and reports coming out of po-dunk Minnesota that need to be questioned. Question EVERY THING you hear and read that stirs your emotions or interest, either as a proponent or an opponent of what ever the subject and spin might be. If you don't and you "assume" it to be true, then you're merely a "repeater" for potentially flawed information.
If you care enough to comment, care enough to read what's actually written and apply critical thinking to the "facts" that are presented BEFORE deciding if what is written is "probably true" or perhaps not quite accurate. Doubt is a good thing.
Just something to consider.