Sunday, April 27, 2008

Facts, relied upon, must be verified, when challenged

Of IPBiz's comparison of news coverage for

#1. CIRM's claim for credit for the myelofibrosis research (with californiastemcellreport challenging CIRM's claim)

#2. Californiastemcellreport's quote of someone saying Yamanaka accepted a CIRM grant in August 2007 (with californiastemcellreport crediting CIRM for luring Yamanaka to California)

californiastemcellreport noted:

Thanks for your comment, Larry. I can't speak to the law journal question. I am not familiar with their practices. However, newspapers print falsehoods or dubious assertions on a daily basis. They are contained in material provided by government officials, attorneys, public relations people, letters to the editor, etc. Most of the time the material is in quotes but not always. As a practical matter, it is not possible for the media to check every single assertion made by persons quoted in stories. Just as it is impossible for me to check every assertion made by persons who comment on this blog, nor is it possible for you, Larry, to check claims made on your blog by others. The persons making those assertions have to take to primary responsibility for them.

and IPBiz refers to a previous post on IPBiz [ Accuracy in publication--time for law reviews to wise up? ]:

An editorial in the Trenton Times (22 Sep 04, p. A18) states:

-->If there was a time for the responsible news media to exert every effort to get it right, it's now... The democratic process can work only if the public is well informed and has faith in the information it gets, which is why it's essential that the traditional newspapers and networks retain -- or in some cases, recover -- their reputation for accuracy...

Beginning journalism students are taught to verify information before presenting it as fact... <--

IPBiz does not think californiastemcellreport verified the assertion that Yamanaka accepted a CIRM grant in August 2007 AND IPBiz does not think Yamanaka did accept a CIRM grant in August 2007. Californiastemcellreport RELIED on the truth of the statement to make arguments. IPBiz finds the overreaching by californiastemcellreport as to Yamanaka puzzling in light of the criticism of CIRM's overreaching in the myelofibrosis matter (with the latter overreaching criticized by californiastemcellreport).

***UPDATE. April 28***

In response to a comment by californiastemcellreport below, IPBiz notes a description of English 227 on the internet:

This is a course on the fundamentals of journalism. The most fundamental tasks a journalist must accomplish are:

Know the community
Gather facts
Verify facts
Put facts together in a news story
Compose on the computer
Edit and revise
Meet a deadline.

Separately from that, IPBiz discussed much of the commentary on the Merrill matter at the University of Missouri. IPBiz already wrote that the bigger problem with Merrill was his failure to verify that the quotes were accurate (not his so-called "plagiarism"), and some journalism professors were of the same mind.

An interesting, and frightening, observation is that law review cite checkers do NOT verify facts. They verify that the information (be it true or false) referenced in the later article (the "checked" article) can be found in the earlier article (the "cited" article). In such a way, the inventors of the transistor can be made to appear like fools, and, in the blink of an eye, Gary Boone becomes the inventor of the integrated circuit, with Noyce and Kilby the invisible men. It's great sport, but hardly something to build upon.

Further, IPBiz distinguishes a blog post which amounts "hey look at this" from a blog post which relies on a third party's facts, and fashions an argument based on the truth of the third party facts.


Blogger David Jensen said...

Hi Larry,

Re fact-checking, I assume that you checked the factual accuracy of the Trenton Times statement that beginning students of journalism are taught to verify information before presenting it as fact.

2:33 PM  

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