Checklist for Dodgy Media Articles

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Ferdinand

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Inspired by *this* piece in a newspaper by Rupert Jones, I am compiling a Checklist of Items for testing the dodginess of an article.

 

1 - Is the author a specialist in the area being reported?

 

2 - Does the feature image actually relate to the content of the article? Is it giving a false impression?

 

3 - Does the Title represent the article accurately? Is it sensationalist? (The title is the snippet that will make Twitter).

 

4 - Does the "hook" (probably first sentence of paragraph) ask a relevant question? Or is it misleading?

 

5 - Is the killer fact to set the agenda credible? Is it anecdotal? Is it evidenced?

 

6 - Are relevant facts or information missed out when a point is made? Why?

 

7 - Are claims supported by linked evidence?

 

8 - Is anything simply wrong?

 

9 - Does the newspaper show any evidence of subeditting or fact-checking?

 

This is a checklist and a work in progress rather than a scorecard; yet the article linked above scores about 12 out of 9.

 

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Sometimes, as with this article, the headline or photo immediately shows the lack of truthfulness, as in, "How could the outside of a house possibly be at 39°C as a consequence of poor insulation?"

 

In the main, articles like this (which is really about compliance with regulations) don't seem to be written by subject matter experts, especially when the intention of the author may be to use something like this as a stick to beat a particular populist drum (in this case "nasty landlords", I suspect).

 

However, a lot of the time it's just lazy journalism, with no effort put in to fact checking, that produces tosh like this.  A scribe is told to go and write X number of words about something, and puts the least amount of effort possible into doing so.  Sadly the internet is a rich source for the lazy journo, as probably 80% or more of the content on the web is either flawed or just plain untrue.  Anyone can publish anything, and there's no obligation on anyone to only publish facts, plus those who make money from people reading web pages (from page-view related advertising) really don't want to publish truthful stuff, as it's often far less interesting than something that's been shaped to appeal to that part of human nature that enjoys sensationalist stories.

 

The real problem is that fact checking to prove that a story is garbage takes time, and few people can be bothered with it, so we end up living in a sea of misinformation.

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4 hours ago, JSHarris said:

in this case "nasty landlords", I suspect

 

Guess why I feel provoked? :ph34r:

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26 minutes ago, Ferdinand said:

 

Guess why I feel provoked? :ph34r:

 

Would you really expect a socialist newspaper to not take a gratuitous pop at landlords, though?  They exist by stoking up socialist outrage at what they see as inequalities in society.  The daft thing is that a lot of landlords I've known haven't been from the sector of society that the Guardian views with disdain. I used to read the Guardian years ago, really to try and get a more balanced view, but got fed up with the inaccuracy of their reporting (not to mention their spelling).

 

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12 hours ago, JSHarris said:

 

Would you really expect a socialist newspaper to not take a gratuitous pop at landlords, though?  They exist by stoking up socialist outrage at what they see as inequalities in society.  The daft thing is that a lot of landlords I've known haven't been from the sector of society that the Guardian views with disdain. I used to read the Guardian years ago, really to try and get a more balanced view, but got fed up with the inaccuracy of their reporting (not to mention their spelling).

 

 

It sees itself as Social Democrat I think, or 'Liberal'.

 

Pops are not a problem; outright bullshit is a problem when it gets believed.

 

Though the other types of papers sometimes fall down too in similar ways.

 

Edited by Ferdinand

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7 minutes ago, JSHarris said:

 

Would you really expect a socialist newspaper to not take a gratuitous pop at landlords, though?  They exist by stoking up socialist outrage at what they see as inequalities in society.  The daft thing is that a lot of landlords I've known haven't been from the sector of society that the Guardian views with disdain. I used to read the Guardian years ago, really to try and get a more balanced view, but got fed up with the inaccuracy of their reporting (not to mention their spelling).

 

 

In defence of the Guardian, it's broadly well written and its investigative journalism is to an international standard (Panama papers etc). Some of the opinion writers are flakey but they're there to add controversy. Times is also decent. 

 

Every newspaper is far from perfect wrt accuracy - they're in the business of selling copy and advertising. I've yet to read an article on my speciality (cybersecurity and the like) and not groan and roll my eyes on occasion but that doesn't mean the main thrust is incorrect.

 

Looking at the Daily mail and their ilk, about 50% of their output seems to be reporting on someone tweeting a reaction to some celebrity nonsense or other.. all about driving eyeballs to the website for the ads. 

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11 hours ago, Bitpipe said:

 

In defence of the Guardian, it's broadly well written and its investigative journalism is to an international standard (Panama papers etc). Some of the opinion writers are flakey but they're there to add controversy. Times is also decent. 

 

Every newspaper is far from perfect wrt accuracy - they're in the business of selling copy and advertising. I've yet to read an article on my speciality (cybersecurity and the like) and not groan and roll my eyes on occasion but that doesn't mean the main thrust is incorrect.

 

Looking at the Daily mail and their ilk, about 50% of their output seems to be reporting on someone tweeting a reaction to some celebrity nonsense or other.. all about driving eyeballs to the website for the ads. 

 

Yep - I would pretty much agree with some of that ... but they do let non-specialists loose are far too many technical subjects. 😎 And they do having a decades long habit of horribly inaccurate reporting on housing and rental subjects.  Imay do a full evisceration of that article if 1-1.5 hours is available.

 

Also to be fair - it is the easiest to read (as is the BBC) as it is open to any reader - the Telegraph and the Times are both behind paywalls.

Edited by Ferdinand

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12 minutes ago, Bitpipe said:

Looking at the Daily mail and their ilk, about 50% of their output seems to be reporting on someone tweeting a reaction to some celebrity nonsense or other.. all about driving eyeballs to the website for the ads. 

 

I've always take the view that the Mail, Sun etc are really just comics.  They only exist in order to provide entertainment, and are in the same category as publications like Hello magazine...

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