Friday, April 23, 2010

Salt Lake Tribune: Not All Spoken Is The Truth

Congratulations to KSL's John Daley for committing an act of good professional journalism

By Curmudgeon

Paul Rolly's latest column in the SL Trib has a good illustration of how journalists routinely fact-checking what public officials tell them can pay off in good stories:
Rolly: Not all spoken is the truth
Here's how the column begins:
KSL-TV's John Daley provided a good example earlier this week of a journalism credo: Always be skeptical of what public officials tell you.
The Chairman of the UTA Board of Trustees told Daley that UTA exec salaries were "quite low" compared to the pay of public transit execs in other cities. And instead of simply printing that statement by a public official as uncontested fact [as a Top Of Utah daily which shall remain nameless here, but whose initials are TSE has been known to do], Daley decided to fact-check what he'd been told. And guess what he discovered? That, compared to transit execs' pay in other cities, UTA execs' pay is in fact "quite high":
Outcry over UTA salaries growing louder
Both Daley's story and Rolly's column have the facts and figures so readers can compare the numbers for themselves.

Congratulations to Mr. Daley for committing journalism. Nice work.


Danny said...

Touching on Curm's comment, I remember some time ago Scott Schwebke did a story on the (always) languishing river project.

He quoted Godfrey and his lying hacks, then he went around and asked people who live in the area. There was a stark contrast between what Godfrey and his toadies were saying, and the perceptions of the public in the area.

One would have thought this would have been a satisfying experience for Schwebke - quoting a public official, then objectively showing the facts.

But it was not to be. Since then Schwebke has simply printed whatever Godfrey and his hacks tell him.

He could have been a good reporter. But instead he chose to be an example of the most useless, lazy of human beings to hold any type of job.

Curmudgeon said...


I recall the story. It was an interesting one. But seems to me the problem with the SE's not fact-checking mayoral [or, more generally, public officials'] statements lies at the editor level.

If the SE's editors wanted mayoral [and more generally, public officials'] press releases and other claims fact-checked, they would be. Clearly, the editors have not instructed their reporters that such sources are to be fact-checked first, all the time and every time. If the editors insisted it be done, it would be.

There are stories that are time-sensitive and that may not offer the opportunity for much fact-checking because they are time sensitive and have to go in the next morning's paper. [Results of City Council meetings, for example.] But many of the stories the SE does not do a particularly a good job on are not at all time-sensitive and could be fact-checked before being run. If Hizzonah announces tomorrow that Ogden is negotiating with Paris Hilton And Entourage to open a glitterati nightclub in Ogden [but he can't say who he's negotiating with or when it will happen or where], the story does not have to run the next morning. There is time to make some phone calls, to do some digging, and to see if there's a lick of truth anywhere in it or not. [Remember the manufacturers' outlet stores the SE reported the mayor saying would be opening in the city-leased rehab properties by last Christmas? The SE should not have run with that one, particularly during an election run-up, without doing the necessary checking first.]

Time-sensitive stories may not be immediately fact-checkable. Non-time sensitive stories are. And most of Hizzonah's over-heated pronouncements of grand things about to happen have not been time-sensitive.

grapevine said...

UTA was also lying when it said it would support Godfrey's downtown circulator trolley. Rumor says UTA killed it.

101 said...

Sub Standard Exaggerator, and the propaganda wing of the jack-boots wasting your tax dollars.

googlegirl said...

Guv: UTA executive pay may be 'a tad excessive'

get er' done said...

The governor says that in the time of a down turn these guys should take a cut. But Rep. Hansen bill, Salary Amendments -- Hansen, N., to cut the gov's pay went nowhere when hot tubing garn said no to it. I think we should name the Republican party the HIPPOCRATES Party.State Officers'

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