Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Journalism

Lazy Journalists Flunk Again

One cannot help but be amused by this story about a 22 year-old student in Dublin who fooled the world's media outlets by posting a phony quote on Wikipedia allegedly from a recently deceased French composer. Although Wikipedia passed the test with flying colors--removing the unattributed quote within hours of its posting--lazy journalists from around the world re-printed the manufactured quote verbatim and with flourish. Only the UK's Guardian has bothered to retract it with a heartfelt apology for their sloppy work. Many papers continue to print it. The quote was lovely and, in a Thucydidean way, I suppose it ought to have been authentic. But the fact that it was not exposes a starker and more important (if not deeper) truth than any artistic truth can hope to demonstrate: one can't trust today's journalists in the way that most folks are still, unfortunately, inclined to do. Yes, we do need them. But the fact remains that one has to learn to think and investigate things for himself. Are we teaching students today with all the world's information seemingly at his fingertips to do this? Or have we become increasingly lazy as things appear to have become easier to research? Shane Fitzgerald seems to have learned this lesson thoroughly and he seems determined to teach it to the world. Good for him.
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