The Media Mythbusters site was created to provide a place for the archiving of comprehensive facts and links chronicling major journalism’s treatment of certain stories in which questions have arisen regarding facts or methods of reporting. These treatments of news events by major media have direct and significant impact upon public opinion and upon policymakers. Careful consideration of the way these stories were handled by the media is essential to both a well informed public and policy, and are intended to contribute to a more reliable and responsible major media desired and needed by all. The goal of this site is to be a reliable resource, accessible to all, to provide news consumers with tools and information to allow them to determine how best to process information they receive through major media outlets.
In 2006 the Associated Press ran a story about six Sunnis who were doused with kerosene and burned alive while nearby Iraqi soldiers watched and did not intervene. The source for the story was identified as Captain Jamil Hussein of the Iraqi police force. The story received wide coverage and was even cited by NBC news as the tipping point that triggered them to start referring to the war in Iraq as a civil war.
Some digging by bloggers revealed that not only was the story not corroborated, nor could a “Captain Jamil Hussein” be found, but that the AP had cited Captain Jamil Hussein as the source for more than 60 other AP stories, all about Sunni on Shia violence. Eventually, in reaction to questions from bloggers, the majority of the “Sunni burning six” story was retracted. I wondered how the story got reported as widely as it did though, considering the suspicion surrounding the source. I looked for some type of online archive in which suspicious stories and sources were tracked and I was unable to find anything. In order to find previous similar stories it was necessary to search many different major and new media sources to piece together a full picture. There were already some excellent sites tracking media bias, but no one site that included only stories that had been found to be inaccurate.
I tossed the idea for such an archive around with some of my blogger friends and a few liked the idea and suggested the site be in wiki format so that many contributors could post there as new information became available. This is how Media Mythbusters was born.
Lorie Byrd Editor/Administrator