News Literacy

Time: 8 a.m.
Speaker: Steve Wolgast (Nine year
New York Times Veteran)

Description: Journalists like to say they develop a sixth sense for identifying news, but some experienced journalists report rumors, errors and contradictions as if they were reliable facts. When the press doesn’t verify facts, sources take advantage of them to get their points across.

Although I was less than thrilled this session was at 8 a.m. (everyone knows journalists don’t fully function before 10 a.m. and three cups of coffee), the information was extremely valuable. We dissected the incident that happened last summer with the health care bill. Betsy McCaughey said on a radio show that Obama’s health care bill encouraged euthanasia. The media ran with it without checking the specific page in the bill that all media sources kept mentioning.

“At what point,” Wolgast asked, “does a journalist say the source is wrong?”

This intrigued me. The definition of a journalist, to me at least, has always been on of objective truth. I know that one probably would not bluntly tell their readers the information is wrong, but gather the right facts, the truth, and present it.

This session was a great eye opener and reminder to keep doing the best job I can and always fact check. Because even the pros get sloppy.

-Sam

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