August 11, 2007

Layers Of Editors, Part 37B

I believe it was sometime during the Rathergate debacle that mainstream media apologists insisted that blogs could never compete with newspapers in terms of quality because of the "layers of editors and fact-checkers" that bloggers didn't have. This guaranteed better quality, we were told -- and have been reminded of that ever since. That's why many of us will not hesitate for a moment to jump on Jon Henke's bandwagon at QandO this morning, as he discovers that Managing Editors need some extra layers in Cincinnati:

During a debate among GOP presidential candidates on Sunday, Fred Thompson, though officially undeclared as a candidate, declared war on breast cancer. Thompson, a cancer survivor himself, drew on his family's experience to remind everyone of cancer's reach and our nation's need to fight to win.

"My mother-in-law died of breast cancer, my mother. My wife has breast cancer. My young daughter has breast cancer," he said. " I don't think I was supportive enough, and that's why I'm vowing right now to end breast cancer by the year 2015 for all the women in America."

Here's some fact-checking that Mark Neikirk, the Cincinnati Post's managing editor, didn't bother to do:

1. Fred Thompson did not appear at the debate on Sunday. In fact, Fred Thompson hasn't appeared at any debate, as anyone who has followed the Republican primaries knows.

2. The one who offered that compelling life story was former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson -- who is an officially declared candidate and has been for months, although it may be understandble is Neikirk couldn't tell.

It's important to get facts straight, even in op-ed pieces, especially those written by the Managing Editor. Let's hope Neikirk does a better job in the future with those layers of editors and fact-checkers.

HOIST UPON MY OWN PETARD: I misspelled Cincinnati. Thanks to commenter NCC for the correction and the tweak, although in my defense, I never claimed to have multiple layers of proofreaders. Also, I should answer Bryan to say that no, I didn't contact Neikirk -- but this is already out in the print version, and the Post doesn't pay me to do their fact-checking for them.


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Comments (25)

Posted by rickdallas | August 11, 2007 9:18 AM

This reminds me of the fable of "The Emperor Has No Clothes". Perhaps this story should be titled "The Managing Editor Has No Checkers".

Posted by NCC | August 11, 2007 9:19 AM

It's "Cincinnati."

-- Not The Editors

Posted by bryan | August 11, 2007 9:19 AM

You might be interested that the Cincinnati Post is going out of business in a few months.

This might be more of a don't care problem or screw the company issue.

Or just a case of a typical journalist

Posted by RBMN | August 11, 2007 9:25 AM

They're so easy to mix up. They're both "Hollywood chick magnets."

Posted by Rovin | August 11, 2007 10:01 AM

Unfortunately many editors today are competing with the "Jamil Hussein Academy of Journalism", an unachiveable standard set by AP. Move over Oscar.

Posted by GarandFan | August 11, 2007 10:02 AM

"Multiple layers of fact checking".

That's going to go down in history as one of the most stupid statements ever issued by someone in the MSM.

It's right up there with the VP at Virginia Tech saying that he was appreciative of the courts backing the schools refusal to honor the CCW permits of students because '....the university has systems in place to guarantee student safety...'


Posted by sherlock | August 11, 2007 10:13 AM

I'll bet he can spell Cincinnati.

Okay, forget that.

Posted by Rhymes With Right | August 11, 2007 10:13 AM

Seems to say everything there is to say about Tommy Thompson's candidacy as well.

When you are so insignificant that they don't even notice you are there, its a problem.

Posted by bryan | August 11, 2007 10:16 AM

I don't mean to be a jerk Captain, but did you write the guy first and give him a chance to fix his article? Maybe he just made an honest mistake?

Posted by Tom Shipley | August 11, 2007 11:10 AM


Having editors is in no way a guarantee mistakes will not be made. Editors are not infallable. I'm sure you know this. So why make a big deal out of a mistake like this? It comes off as petty and juvenile.

The fact of the matter is, blogs won't be newspapers unless they start acting like them: doing actual reporting; having a staff of editors to copy edit; having a editorial board to generally keep the content alligned with the mission of the blog. Some do. Most don't. That's not saying that blogs could or should be like newspapers, but let's what papers have going on is a pretty good thing... as you'll note in the numbers of times newspapers are linked to on this site.

I lose a lot of respect for blogs (political ones especially) who continuously attack newspapers... because political blogs live off of newspapers (they do also help them, so it is a two way street), but newspapers do the lion share of reporting that drives the debate on political blogs.

I'm all for blogs keeping a check on other forms of media (and doing reporting of their own), but they often come off as petulant teenagers who don't realize how much their parents do for them.

Posted by LarryD | August 11, 2007 12:00 PM

Tom, did you just ignore the Captain's first two sentences? Where he explained exactly why he's makeing a big deal about this.

In fact, according to Roger Simon: (emphasis mine)

But allow me to go further. As many reading this know, I am not a "young blogger," alas (wish I were). I spent a lifetime working in mainstream media - book publishing, Hollywood movies, newspapers and magazines. Fact-checking, in my experience, is a big lie. It barely exists in the mainstream media.

Which explaines why we keep catching them in (to be generious) mistakes, if not outright lies. But they claim to hew to a higher standard, so we're holding them to it.

Posted by Herb | August 11, 2007 12:29 PM

Simon is such a genius. Hollywood movies don't employ fact-checkers? Who knew?!?

Anyone who has spent more than 10 minutes in journalism knows that newspapers never employ fact-checkers; reporters are expected to get their facts right the first time.

Magazines, by contrast, almost always use fact-checkers. Don't ask me why, but that's just the way it works. I spent an hour on the phone with a fact checker just recently for a magazine story for which I had been interviewed. They check the most significant things, and the most mundane.

As for the blogosphere...well, wake me up when a blogger actually manages to report and break a legitimate story that a real journalist didn't come up with first. Hasn't happened yet. Doubt it ever will. Bloggers are people who sit at their computers all day and drink one another's bathwater. Reporters are people who go out and interview sources and find stories. Two different skill sets, you know.

Posted by Rick C | August 11, 2007 12:39 PM

Well, Herb, how about Michael Yon and Bill Roggio for Iraq war news.

Then there are a host of local bloggers that post on local issues that never make even the local paper.

But, if your definition of a blogger is someone who never leaves the computer, I guess I can see how you could miss all this.


Posted by Del Dolemonte | August 11, 2007 1:00 PM

Herb says:

"As for the blogosphere...well, wake me up when a blogger actually manages to report and break a legitimate story that a real journalist didn't come up with first"

Here's your wake-up call. Example #1 is as "legitimate" as they come, especially since it resulted in some of the perps being fired and their mouthpiece losing his anchor chair.

1. Rathergate, which was broken by the Power Line blog.

2. The scandal with news services like Reuters using fake photos from Lebanon last summer, which was exposed by Little Green Footballs. As a result, the free lance photographer responsible for the faked pictures lost his contract.

3. The recent Beauchamp story in the New Republic was totally ignored by the "real" journalists.

Posted by Del Dolemonte | August 11, 2007 2:13 PM

Slight correction: Rather's fake yet accurate memos were first mentioned by a poster named "Buckhead" on the Free Republic site. Little Green Footballs (and also Power Line) then kept it going.

Posted by Jim T | August 11, 2007 2:41 PM

Nitpick, but it's hoist BY your own petard. A petard was an early kind of bomb. So the phrase means that you were blown up by your own bomb.s

Posted by jaeger51 | August 11, 2007 2:59 PM

Tommy, Fred, whatever. They're both just old white guys, who, what did that young black Obama guy say again? My college prof told me that's who really counts...

Posted by Herb | August 11, 2007 7:28 PM

Ah yes, Rathergate and Reutergate.

Sorry, I should have made it clear that I was talking about actual news stories -- you know, things that really happen in the world, and matter.

Rick C: fair point about local bloggers. Hasn't happened where I live, but maybe it's happerned somewhere else. I don't know those Iraq bloggers you've mentioned: can you cite some stories they've broken?

Posted by ggeisel | August 11, 2007 8:54 PM

I live in Cincinnati and the Post has been a second-class rag for some time. I remember as a teenager laughing at some of its headlines. They sounded like they were written for the National Enquirer. It will (as mentioned above) cease publication on 12/31/2007.

Posted by Carol Herman | August 11, 2007 11:26 PM

As long as TOMMY THOMPSON is in the "sweepstakes," FRED THOMPSON is not coming in. PERIOD.

Newt Gingrich will also appear "later." And, you have no idea how much TIME there is for this contest to "gel."

For cancer to be a topic in a campaign, however, just smells of desperation. Yeah. "Curing cancer." That's a campaign promise. FOR IDIOTS.

The costs associated with campaigning is astronomical. (Unless you're Ron Paul, and you have zombies who spam the Net for ya.) Doesn't mean ya win anything. But it's a booby prize, just the same.

It's also the summer.

And, Americans are notorious for NOT PAYING ATTENTION during the summer months.

In 2004, what Dan Rather did, besides committing "anchor" suicide; is that he BOOSTE UP Bush's numbers. You see this, now, with TNR's "escapades." Bush's approval numbers are going back up.

When we come to the Fall, we'll see Patraeus, realistic AND hopeful. I think Americans will "stick with the plan."

And, I even think Americans will consider the draft coming back. Given how baby-fied kids are made in school, today, what other hope is there? Americans need to re-invent backbones for kids.

"ggeisel," when I was a kid, kids made money after school, delivering newspapers. Heck, in the early 1980's, I even bought my son a Nintendo Game called "paperboy."

Those jobs disappeared long ago. Decades, ago.

Posted by Norm | August 12, 2007 12:14 AM

Carol, what do you mean by :

"As long as TOMMY THOMPSON is in the "sweepstakes," FRED THOMPSON is not coming in. PERIOD."

Kinda confused. Is this just your opinion, or do you have inside information?

I'm just hoping my cash contribution didn't go to waste.


Posted by unclesmrgol | August 12, 2007 12:52 AM

Tim Rutten of the LA Times throws in the towel today, admitting that (a) blogs are hurting newpapers, (b) people don't trust the mainstream media any more, and (c) conservatives are far less apt to believe what they read or view than liberals.

Rutten points out that more Americans are reading British newspaper websites (both liberal and conservative papers) now than Brits are; he leaves completely unstated the reason (Drudge).

Posted by burt | August 12, 2007 5:41 AM

Oh my gosh! You mean there are actually two people named Thompson? Oh well they're not real people; they're just Republican droids.

Posted by docjim505 | August 12, 2007 6:58 AM

Nice goalpost shifting, Herb...

As for "real" stories being broken, I seem to recall that our humble host played a role in exposing corruption in the Canadian government, leading to the sound defeat of the liberals in Canada at the polls in their last election. That "real" enough for you?

Posted by GarandFan | August 12, 2007 8:15 AM

"Ah yes, Rathergate and Reutergate.

Sorry, I should have made it clear that I was talking about actual news stories -- you know, things that really happen in the world, and matter."

So, a major news organization trying to throw a presidential election with fake documents and another news organization publishing fake propaganda photographs are not things that "matter"?

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