Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Empty Claims and Journalistic Standards

I make my living off the evening news
Just give me something--something I can use
People love it when you lose
They love dirty laundry
--Don Henley

With yet another round of unsubstantiated assertions surrounding Donald Trump and Russia making the rounds among slanted media outlets this morning, it's hard not marvel at the traction that such empty claims get among both providers and consumers of such 'news.'

An empty claim is a an assertion that is not reasonably supported. In the context of news reporting,  support typically hinges on amassing significant amounts to hard facts or evidence that validate a claim as newsworthy.

An outlet with high journalistic standards would not report a claim as news unless it was certain that the claim was substantiated by fact. Otherwise, the outlet is trafficking in rumors or hearsay.

Currently, the popular term for trafficking in such rumors and hearsay is 'fake news.'

Why are empty claims so popular? Purveyors of empty claims know that misinformation can be effective. Consumers of empty claims, particularly those suffering from severe cases of cognitive dissonance, lap them up.

Journalistic standards are lowered so that markets for bias can be made.  

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