Veterens Day

The VA story the networks didn’t cover this week

This story originally appeared on the PunditFact website. Poynter.org is republishing with permission.

Back in May, anyone who tuned in to almost any news show was guaranteed to hear about administrative delays that caused the deaths of 40 veterans at a VA hospital in Phoenix. Sometimes, the charge was softened a bit and news anchors talked about how the delays "might have" led to the deaths, but the general message was clear: Mismanagement, and even criminal deceit, had cut short the lives of people who had served their country.

On Tuesday, the Office of Inspector General at the Veterans Affairs Department issued its final report on the matter. While it confirmed a manipulation of scheduling records that it called unethical and in some cases criminal, it refuted the allegation that drove the headlines in May.… Read more

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Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014

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Fact-checking claims about race after Ferguson shooting

This story originally appeared on the PunditFact website. Poynter.org is republishing with permission.

The shooting of 18-year-old African-American Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer has led to a broader discussion of race in America. PunditFact has recently fact-checked several claims centering on race.

No. 1 cause of death for young black men

Fox pundit Juan Williams recently expounded upon a column he wrote for the Wall Street Journal in which he described "thuggish behavior" as creating a culture of violence in African-American communities.

"The violent behavior of young black men and the police response have become a window on racial fears," Williams wrote. On Fox News Sunday Williams said, "On the black side of this equation, I think there’s fear of intimidation, harassment being legitimized by the fact that there is a high rate of crime, especially among young black men.… Read more

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Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014

NYT corrects: Bald eagles’ poop isn’t purple

A New York Times correction delves into the nitty gritty of bald eagle and osprey poop:

An earlier version of this article described bald eagles and ospreys incorrectly. They eat fish, and their poop is white; they do not eat berries and excrete purple feces. (Other birds, like American robins, Eurasian starlings and cedar waxwings, do.)

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Monday, Aug. 18, 2014

Let's Get Weird: A BuzzFeed Event sponsored by The CW

BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith: ‘We didn’t fully think through’ the removal of old posts

Several months ago, roughly half a dozen early BuzzFeed writers were told to go back through their pre-2012 work and decide what they wanted to save. Anything they didn’t want to keep or update should be removed from the site, they were told.

“Go through your stuff and save what you care about,” is how BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith summarizes the direction.

The result was that thousands of posts were removed from BuzzFeed, without any notice or disclosure. The removal of content was revealed by Gawker’s J.K. Trotter in two posts, the most recent of which outlined the previously unknown scale of the cull.

Smith was off in the woods on vacation when Trotter’s latest piece was published last week. This morning I spoke to him by phone, and he said BuzzFeed did not handle the purge of old content as well as it should have.… Read more

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Friday, Aug. 08, 2014

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Bear attack foiled by Justin Bieber’s music: A story too good to check

Just after 12 pm on Tuesday, a story started picking up some serious online momentum.

In the span of about an hour, it appeared on the websites of The Week, Elite Daily, the Daily Mirror, the New York Post, Mediaite, an ABC affiliate, among others.

Here’s how the New York Post’s story began:

Even bears can’t stand Justin Bieber’s music.

A fisherman in Russia was being attacked by a brown bear and escaped death when his Justin Bieber ringtone went off and sent the beast fleeing into the forest.

Animals? Check. A strange and amazing turn of events? Check. Justin Bieber angle when he’s already in the news for a run-in with Orlando Bloom? Check.

Too good to check?… Read more

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Friday, July 25, 2014

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The Wall Street Journal fails ‘Monsters of Greek Mythology 101′

Someone at the Wall Street Journal can’t tell a Minotaur from a Cyclopes. As a result, the paper published a monstrous correction this week:

The Minotaur is a monster in Greek mythology that is part bull, part human. A travel article in Saturday’s Off Duty section mistakenly called it a one-eyed monster.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Economist updates article after man’s mother objects to his photo

The Economist published a blog post that tried to show negative stereotypes of tourists from different countries are often untrue and unfair.

And by stereotypes, they mean:

Germans? Humourless and demanding. Americans? Loud with garish shorts. Chinese? Rude. Canadians? Actually Canadians are all quite nice. And the Brits? Drunken, violent louts

The original version of the article featured a picture of a young British fellow “on a night out in Mallorca.” This upset the man’s mother, and she contacted the publication to ask that it not tar him with the aforementioned “drunken, violent” brush.

Well, The Economist was only happy to comply. It changed the photo and added this note to the bottom of the story:

Note: This blogpost was originally illustrated with a photograph of a young British man on a night out in Mallorca.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Scottish paper issues correction after it claims prom couple were ‘the envy of their classmates’

Here’s a wonderful backhanded correction from this week’s edition of the Cumbernauld News, of Scotland:

Vine is a broadcaster with the BBC, and the Twitter user he credits for finding the correction told me that it was published in this week’s edition of the paper. I emailed the paper to see if I can get more information about why Mrs. Masterson raised objections, and why the paper decided to issue the correction.… Read more

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mitt Romney, Barack Obama

Study: Political journalists opt for stenography over fact checking during presidential debates

During the 2012 U.S. presidential debates, political journalists on Twitter primarily repeated candidate claims without providing fact checks or other context, according to new research published in The International Journal of Press/Politics.

Authors Mark Coddington, Logan Molyneux and Regina G. Lawrence analyzed tweets from 430 political journalists during the debates to see how much they engaged in the checking of candidate claims. The resulting paper is “Fact Checking the Campaign: How Political Reporters Use Twitter to Set the Record Straight (or Not).”

They also examined whether the political journalist’s tweets fell more into the construct of traditional objectivity or what they call “scientific objectivity,” which eschews he said/she said in favor of empirical statements and analysis, i.e fact checking.

They found that 60 percent of the journalist tweets “reflected traditional practices of ‘professional’ objectivity: stenography—simply passing along a claim made by a politician—and ‘he said, she said’ repetition of a politician’s claims and his opponent’s counterclaim.”

Journalists largely repeated the claims and statement of candidates, rather that check or challenge them.… Read more

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Tuesday, July 08, 2014

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Amnesty International launches video verification tool, website

Amnesty International is in the verification game and that is good news for journalism.

When journalists monitor and search social networks, they’re looking to discover and verify newsworthy content. Amnesty utilizes the same networks and content — but their goal is to gather and substantiate evidence of human rights abuses.

“Verification and corroboration was always a key component of human rights research,” said Christoph Koettl, the emergency response manager in Amnesty USA’s Crisis Prevention and Response Unit. “We always had to carefully review and corroborate materials, no matter if it’s testimony, written documents or satellite imagery.”

Now they’re “confronted with a torrent of potential new evidence” thanks to social networks and cell phones. As with their counterparts in newsrooms, human rights workers and humanitarian organizations must develop and maintain skills to verify the mass of user-generated content.… Read more

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