A reader writes:
OK, I’m not quite neutral, since I work for a well-known old magazine, but whatever: dial it down on the “how stupid is the MSM for not verifying Manti’s girlfriend?” Journalism on deadline is hard. So in the course of practicing it, journalists don’t have time to require sources to prove basic facts nobody would invent, because their productivity would grind to a halt. When someone gives you their name on the street, you don’t ask for ID. When they say they work at a bank, you don’t treat them like a liar and force them to prove it. You write “Joe Schmo, who works at a bank…” Who the fuck makes up family members (or girlfriends)? And just as reporters don’t assume sources lie about basic biographical details, editors don’t regularly treat reporters as potential liars, which is why the New Republic and the New York Times and the Washington Post got hoaxed.
And the undertone that “legacy media” is so much worse than the blogosphere is getting cloying. How many e-mails did you publish in “Cannabis Closet?” and “It’s So Personal.” I admire your campaigning, and I admire your opening your blog to readers. But it would have been trivially easy to make up these stories, stories that you passed on to a huge readership without verification, in order to move the needle on crucial public policies.
Points taken. But in the course of one of the biggest hoaxes in the history of sports journalism, there was not one deadline. There were weeks of potential follow-up – and which journalist wouldn’t want to find and interview the mythical girlfriend? Is blaming this fiasco on deadline pressure all you’ve got? Seriously?
But, yes, in the absence of a staff large enough to fact-check every email we publish, the Dish only has thousands of potential fact-checkers every day – our readership. For example, after we ran one of the “It’s So Personal” stories on Marfan Syndrome, several readers immediately jumped on inconsistencies in the story, causing the original reader to correct himself. This process goes on every day; we are constantly updating posts with corrections, clarifications or additional information that put them in a more accurate light. We actually are on a deadline. In fact, we are never off one. And I’m happy to compare our record of factual errors with any comparable site or newspaper.