Saturday, October 20, 2007

Some of the things that newspapers are supposed to do

Investigative reporting. Intelligent analysis. Fact-checking.

I don't agree with some of their calls -- for instance, I don't think Gravel deserves Pants on Fire for this one -- but the idea of real true fact-checking, complete with links to sources, has been missing from MSM outlets for too long. It's a start.

Kudos to the St Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly for taking a stab at it.

update 10-22-07: just a couple of small edits...


Steve Bates said...

Is it virtuous for the St. Petersburg Times to "tak[e] a stab at it" and miss?

Presuming their figures are correct, that 40 percent of the jail population is African American, and presuming Wikipedia quotes the CIA Fact Book correctly that in 2006, 12.9 percent of the population is African American, that still means that blacks are incarcerated at approximately three times the rate of the rest of the population. That was Gravel's point, the overwhelmingly disproportionate incarceration of blacks, not the numbers 40 percent or 70 percent, and the SPT conveniently ignored the basic truth of Gravel's argument, in pursuit of nailing him for a number remembered incorrectly in the heat of debate.

Did SPT do a favor to our public dialogue? Did they really even TRY to do so, or were they looking to score political points?

hipparchia said...

on that one, i agree they didn't help matters any. same for some of the others that they fact check.

and i agree with you on what gravel's point was. it's far too important a point for them to have dismissed his point by calling it a pants on fire. i'd have given it at least a half true myself, and probably more.

some of the others they did a better job on, and on all of them [that i checked] they provide links to their sources. if you disagree with their subjective call, you can still go look at their sources. that doesn't happen often enough at all.

Anonymous said...

Gotta agree with Steve Bates, the criminal justice system is extremely racist in its operation, and whatever the percentage of the total population under criminal supervision, blacks are tremendously overrepresented. The percentage of black males in particular who are under such supervision is astronomical.

hipparchia said...

oh, i agree with both of you on the rampant racism in the criminal [non]justice system. few people have spent more time at this website than i have.

i'll even go so far as to suggest that the person who called gravel a liar in this instance did so deliberately and has a [not quite] hidden agenda or perhaps an axe to grind.