Children of Dune:

Children of Dune:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

We subscribe to two newspapers: The Wall Street Journal, and our local newspaper called The Ithaca Journal.

The national paper because, famously, one gets to learn who won, who lost, and how much. It is the national paper of record now.

The local paper we read for local news. The paper has a high turnover of staff, but they do an earnest job. The Ithaca journal has a little web site, but it is not doing well. They first were unable to continue printing the comics in color. And became smaller. And started selling the national/international section from USA Today.

The time came when they published an opinion piece with an error, it was by Amy Goodman but could have been by anyone. I was led to wonder who was responsible for errors in opinion pieces, and sent them the following sort of thing. I decided to stop typing when a fluffy cat decided to sleep on the keyboard. The Ithaca Journal never did respond. Perhaps they are busy.

New York had a famous congressman once named Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a famed Irish wit, brilliant and avuncular. He liked to remark "You’re entitled to your own opinions. You’re not entitled to your own facts."

This is a complaint about factual errors in the opinion section, errors which I have noticed from time to time over the years.
This latest example was from Amy Goodman's recent column:

Amy Goodman wrote:
"More than 10,000 citizens, activists and organizers have come from around the world for four days of workshops, meetings and marches to strengthen social movements and advance a progressive agenda."

And then goes on to write:
"Far larger than any tea party convention, it has gotten very little mainstream-media coverage."

Sorry to hear that Amy's event didn't get the media attention she felt that it deserved. These actions cost effort, time and money, and I would have liked to hear what they had to say, even though my idea of a healthy social movement is different from hers, and I consider the progressive movement to be the rot of the last fifty or so years. And it is not true that her action was far larger than any tea party convention.

If we accept Amy's number of "More than ten thousand citizens as reasonably close to ten thousand, then she is contradicted by believable accounts. At the Washington DC Tea Party convention on 9/12, the crowd was larger. As Josh Marshall reported at TalkingPointsMemo, the fire department estimated the crowd at 60,000 to 70,000 people...

I don't know how facts are checked in the opinion section, but in this day of tweets and blogger comments, "facts" shift as though in a game of telephone tag. I sympathize, but these numbers are wrong anyway. Do you fact check opinion and letters to the editor? Should your readers be doing the fact checking?

I am interested in your response,