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(just stuff I happen to be thinking about)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Disregard for the Truth

I was reading this article which claims that President Obama would have to make history in order to be reelected. What history? "No incumbent has ever been re-elected with unemployment this high", the author claims. My immediate thought was, that cannot possibly be right. So I looked it up. The real difficulty is that unemployment has only rarely been this high (about 8.5%) a few times since they began counting it. Nevertheless, FDR was reelected with higher unemployment in 1936 and 1940, and Reagan was reelected in 1984 with 7.5% unemployment.

So why would someone write an article with a faulty premise brought forward as the headline issue? Probably for the same reason that other articles are written in the form of lists so that they can be headlined something like The 5 Most Important Things. Headlines generate clicks and clicks are all that matter in online writing. It is not exactly that the integrity of every journalist is for sale, but a careless disregard for the truth is now a necessary part of the job; there is no time to check facts. Speed and the ability to generate instantaneous interest are the most valued attributes in a modern journalist.

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