This is just to float a balloon, to continue the Twitter conversation 11/28/16 about the reporting of an important newsmaker’s unsubstantiated and likely false statements without turbo-charging these comments so that they keep ricocheting across the universe. This happens, in large part, because news organizations repeat them, substituting an aside such as “not independently confirmed” or “unsubstantiated” or “without providing evidence” in place of a verification process.
What if there were a place–a page, a separate linkable page–that users/readers understood that such remarks would go, rather than into the day’s main headlines and leads, especially when editors judge that a far more significant related story should merit greater claim to the public’s attention?
If such a place existed as an expected, accepted aspect of the basic architecture of news delivery, a questionable claim could be handled, say, in a box that users would know to look for, or, in a boxed, italicized note under the headline of what editors judged to be the main story or stories of the cycle relating to that person or subject.
Without repeating the dubious or flat-out false assertion, the boxed note would advise readers that a statement disseminated by such-and-such a figure or such-and-such an organization — and in whatever context (e.g. in a tweet, in a speech to the xxx, at a news conference) — was either (a) in doubt and under review to determine its accuracy or (b) had been proven false.
This notice would link to the page or site where a transparent verification process–of minutes or hours or days or weeks, depending on what was said and how time-consuming it was to verify–was either under way or had been completed. The main site box would be updated when the results were in.
Think of it as a kind of news purgatory (DUPO, as in Dubious Until Proven Otherwise?) If the statement or assertion fails the process, that would get recorded on the DUPO site there the statement and the evidence of its verification process would either remain, so users could judge the process, or, depending on the results, the probe might or might not result in a subsequent story for the main site.
If something like this became a news habit, even for the words of important newsmakers whose very utterances–of whatever quality–are considered news in the immediate, I don’t think it’s far-fetched to imagine far better thought-out version of something like this going a good distance to restoring media trust. Maybe there better ideas out there?
NHD contestants: Please read this.
The Suffragents in the news: Kirkus Features, Kirkus Reviews, Foreword Reviews, Town & Country, The American Scholar, Tabletmag.com, Unorthodox podcast, Top of Mind with Julie Rose (live), NYU Features, Women’s Media Center, Futurity, Non-Fiction Fans, HeforShe.org’s The Scoop, Opzij magazine (NL), AmericasDemocrats podcast, Facebook , Brooke’s posts, Good Men Project , suffrageandthemedia.org,
Upcoming events: Oct. 19: East Hampton Library. Oct. 22: Author’s Talk & Tea: Woodlawn Conservancy. Oct. 26: Talk Back at the Black Box Theater for Nancy Smithner’s “Hear Them Roar: The Fight for Women’s Rights.” Nov. 5: Holiday Book Signing at the Beekman Arms in Rhinebeck, NY. Nov. 6: Brentwood Public Library Nov. 7: NYU Center for the Humanities. Nov. 10: Gotham Center for NYC History/CUNY Graduate Center Nov. 16: Book & Bottle: Suffolk County Historical Society & Museum. Nov. 17-18 Researching New York Conference, Albany. Nov. 20: Brookhaven League of Women Voters. March 10: Keynote, Joint Journalism & Communications Historians Conference, New York City.
Parting shots of: the book launch events of Sept. 1 in East Hampton; Sept. 11 in NYC and Sept. 14 in Cambridge Mass. I’ve got comment and a video (expected soon) of the Sept. 28 event with Angela P. Dodson at the NY Society Library I spoke at the NY Genealogical & Biographical Society Fall Luncheon on Oct. 10 to an audience in which men were very well represented. Oct. 14, I presented on a panel at the AJHA Convention, Little Rock, Ark., on ‘When the Women of Suffrage Got Its Makeover On.” More to come on that.