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"Murphy was an optimist!"

Is your news complete? August 26, 2008 9:56 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : News, Of Interest
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Does reading news online, or even in a paper (or television), really give a clear picture of the story? Of course not. It gives a reporters impression of the story, sometimes reflects the political views of the paper or broadcast company, and can be intentionally misleading. I don’t think anything was intentionally misleading in these article but look at how information from 3 different sources changes your views of a story about a LaFollette man dying:

My introduction to the story by WBIR

In summary, the WBIR story reported a LaFollette man crash his car and died. He was not found for two days and was presumed to be drinking. 82 words in 5 paragraphs. The commenters were quick to bad mouth the obvious drunkard. I was left with the impression the car was in a ditch beside the road and people drove past ignoring the wreckage.

The 2nd story I read was by Knoxnews

The Knoxnews story had much more detail at 181 words in 7 paragraphs. Knoxnews revealed that the car was found over a football field’s length from the road. They gave much better detail about the way the accident happened, the age of the driver, the fact he was wearing his seatbelt, and even the type of vehicle. None-the-less, I finished the article with not much sympathy for someone drinking at driving on a Monday afternoon.

The final story by WATE was heart wrenching

The last story I read filled in some gaps and created great empathy for the family. WATE’s story at 81 words in 5 paragraphs was reported yesterday and did not mention the man’s death. It was titled "Search for missing Campbell Co. man with dementia" and was a plea for the community’s help in finding the missing man. WATE included the man’s age and description of his truck both of which matched the Knoxnews article. The WATE article had one comment from yesterday by the man’s daughter, Amber Sutton:

hey im johnny sutton’s daughter please keep me and my family in prays….i miss my dad…please come home safe and whoever is lookin 4 him i send all my thanks out

Her comment and the word "dementia" put Johnny Sutton’s story in a completely different light.

When you read news, do you take it for what the one source claims or do you seek the whole story?

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Comments»

1. Victor Agreda Jr - August 26, 2008

When it comes to WBIR, I always check someone else. They completely lost my “business” as a news source during the CHS shooting.

I’d say most people just go with what they know and fugheddaboutit unless something major develops… Hard to disrepute a decision your mind makes unbeknownst to your consciousness.

Wow, that was full of big-ticket words, wasn’t it?

2. Doug McCaughan - August 26, 2008

“I don’t want knowledge. I want certainty!”


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