Commentary: Don’t let facts get in the way

By Jack Williams ©2013

Journalists like to joke that one shouldn’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Some journalists seem to take this joke  as a guide to spinning a good yarn. A yarn that in the old days would get the story on a newspaper’s Page 1 and today will bring lots of hits and links to a Web site.

Writers (not reporters, why waste time looking for facts) who produce such yarns often give the rest of us a few laughs.

This happened as news slowly leaked out that the Russians have finally drilled into Lake Vostok, which is buried under two miles of ice in the part of Antarctica that holds the world record for coldest temperature ever recorded.

This a really a big deal science story.

The first “stories” apparently came from Russia and the United Kingdom as described in Tuesday’s Knight Science Journalism tracker (SJT).

The Tracker’s Charlie Petit introduces the story from the UK Daily Mail with: “…another crucible of truth (a place where plain facts, being so dull, get melted down and recast in fabulous fashion and always with superb pictures).”

The first accurate and sensible story I saw was on the New York Times Web site on Wednesday, but several others including some from Moscow came out Wednesday. Many of these stories are linked from Wednesday’s SJT.

One bonus of my search I found in “gazeta.ru,” an English language blog from Russia with other home page headlines that included (when I looked at it):

  • Extras in Putin’s protest complain about missing payment
  • Police hijack private car to move it out of Putin’s way

I’m bookmarking this site. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts in today’s Russia.

 

 

 

 

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