The Media Mythbuster Mission
"Modern man is staggering and losing his balance because he is being pelted with little pieces of alleged fact which are native to the newspapers; and, if they turn out not to be facts, that is still more native to newspapers." - G.K. Chesterton, GK's Weekly, April 7, 1923
Myth: "a fiction or half-truth, especially one that forms part of an ideology." (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition.)
To be the Internet source 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 a tool and information to allow them to determine how best to process information they receive through major media outlets.
Media Malpractice: Improper professional action or treatment, as from reprehensible ignorance or neglect or with ill intent This is the dictionary definition, excluding references to physicians, medical practice being the source of the term. It’s difficult enough to prove medical malpractice, given the infinite variety of humans and their reactions to varying treatments, the range of acceptable medical practices, and the difficulties of gathering evidence. It’s even more difficult with respect to the media. The added difficulty is because journalism is much less a well-defined and regulated profession than medicine. So, the standards and their application is less precise and the enforcement of standards lacks an authoritative body. Nonetheless, journalism and its major practitioners have developed and propounded standards that, for the most part, are fairly comprehensive and tried. It is against those standards, journalism’s own, that we measure. It is also usually more important that we pay more attention than we have to media malpractice. While medical malpractice may affect just one, or thousands, media malpractice affects many millions of media users, and many millions – if not billions – more of earth’s inhabitants whose governance, security, economic advancement, and freedoms (or opportunities for those) is affected.
Although we do not seek a new body to rule on when journalism fails its own standards and have enforcement power, we do seek to empower the most important bodies: the media’s end-users, their customers, with the reliable information to press for closer adherence to journalism’s standards, and writers of contemporary and future histories with the reliable information from which to note and research what actually happened.
We have adopted a wiki format, to allow for updating as more and better information becomes available. The cases presented are selected for their recent or current importance, or telling illustration of wider and/or longer-lasting problems.
Journalism Standards Page
Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics