Fixing News Breaks

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

One of the best ideas I’ve come across in a while is the suggestion that newspapers should begin including bibliographic information for their articles. Nothing huge, but at the end of each article a couple of lines should appear listing the resources from which the information in the article came. Even if just to say, “Interview with Mr. Xyz on July 14th, 2003” or “Saw it with my own eyes.”

One of the fundamental problems with journalism right now is that no one knows whom to trust. And. It turns out that several well-known “journalists” have some serious fact-checking problems. If you could read an article that had some amazing news and then have resources to double-check a few details or just dig further into the information — how great would that be? And after-the-fact, years later, if a source turns out to have been clearly unreliable, it might be much easier to trace and account for the bad information.

The journalistic world right now is full of half-wits and snake-oil salesmen. And something needs to start changing.