Whatever Happened to Basic Standards at Newspapers?

It’s just like the Ukraine story that failed to impeach Donald Trump. Anonymous sources tell major newspapers that second hand or thirdhand source is based in the intelligence community, which is tasked with lying, that Russia may be paying bounties to the Taliban in order to kill United States troops in occupied Afghanistan. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not, but why pay attention to a story that has no evidence or sourcing?

6 thoughts on “Whatever Happened to Basic Standards at Newspapers?

  1. Re: “Whatever Happened to Basic Standards at Newspapers?” William Casey, CIA Director under Reagan made it clear: ““When everything Americans believe is false, our misinformation campaign will be complete.”

    Re: ” … why pay attention to a story that has no evidence or sourcing?”
    Because: OUR fake news don’t stink!!!

  2. Whatever Happened to Basic Standards at Newspapers?

    When did they ever have those, Ted ? I must have missed them somewhere along the way….


  3. Although it’s fun — and easy — to kick the press as having never had standards, it did once. Mostly, this was evident at the alt press papers. (Let’s pause to remember that Kristen Lombardi of the much-missed Boston Phoenix was the first to publish articles on the Boston diocese pedophilia coverup.)

    It’s a shopworn observation but a newspaper survives on its reputation. Do any of the regular readers of this site take ANYTHING the Los Angeles Times reports seriously now? I wouldn’t believe Paul Pringle if he told me potato chips were delicious.

    That’s one of the things about the case against Ted Rall. When you listen to the “evidence,” when you act as a reporter for just 10 minutes, the whole thing falls apart. The entire thing is ridiculous on its face. A few bad apples? Just do the math. How many people had to let this go past while telling themselves it was all perfectly legit?

    The most damning thing though? Two things: One, how many people kept silent who should have opened their mouths to support Ted. A few finally said something: far too little far too late. Two, hHow hard the LA Times fought to avoid an open trial. One of the other shopworn observations is that sunlight is the best disinfectant. Wow, look how hard they kept everything as dark as possible.

    It makes Teddy Kennedy’s getting the courthouse opened on the weekend for a fast-as-lightning trial on the Chappaquiddick thing look totally aboveboard. I think even Bill Clinton would have blushed.

    • Alex, I think you miss the point : the fact that a newspaper can publish a well-researched article without too much evident bias does not mean that it has standards worth the name – I can find such articles in the New York Times nearly every day. «Standards», to my mind, mean rather that the journal in question refrains from publishing a series of tendentious articles based on no more «evidence» than what an unnamed «intelligence officer» heard from another such «intelligence office», who had spoken with a «villager» , etc, etc – articles which just happen to promote a narrative which the journal – and the government – find desirable (an unprovoked attack on the USS Maddox, in the Gulf of Tonkin or WMD in Iraq in 2003 – or why not take it back to the sinking of the Maine in Havana harbour on 15 February 1898). But perhaps you are thinking of those halcyon days before 1898, when journals and journalists rigidly, sons of the Enlightment and the Declaration of Independence that they were, adhered to such standards….

      (On the other hand, I suspect adepts of the history of journalism may find my description above a tad on the naive side….)


      • Henri,

        You’re right that “standards” means not publishing “anonymous sources” pieces. And you’re right that the New York Times does it all the time.
        That was my point. No true Scotsman, I mean no true journalist, approves of such behavior. And there used to be a time where it was beaten into our heads over and over: Do not use anonymous sources unless there is simply no other option, even if that means you can’t file the story in question.
        And the reason for this was given: Because once you start, you can’t stop (like eating those anodyne Pringle’s potato chips which some people swear are delicious but taste like ass to me) and you’ll end up with every single piece being “Sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirm that some people think Ted Rall got screwed by the LA Times as a favor to the LAPD pension fund” and “Sources say the glass is half-full.”
        Now, it’s the go-to behavior all over the place. And what few real journalists are left are appalled.

  4. Yes, Matt Taibbi points this out very often as well. And he has been marginalized. His book “Hate Inc.” really opened my eyes to mainstream media shortcomings.

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