How News is Made, by Dale Dougherty

There should be a book titled "How News Is Made," a book that could be for
journalism what "The Jungle" was to the meatpacking industry. My version
would offer no conspiracy theory, but I'd point out the preponderance of
sloppiness and lazy thinking coupled with a herd mentality, most especially
in business journalism. I found a great example to illustrate what I've been
thinking about, tipped off by an article written by Carl Bialik in the Wall
Street Journal.

First, most of what we call "news" today starts out as a press release,
which then becomes a headline, a sound-bite, and eventually a story. In a
parallel to the way government operates, in which special interest groups
lobby to create or defeat legislation, most of our news stories come as a
result of PR efforts paid for by special interest groups (businesses) who
have a stake in what becomes "news." (I'd love to come up with a taxonomy of
stories by type just to show how few types there really are but that's a
different point.)

Second, reporters like to ask good questions for which there may not be good
answers. However, they'll force an answer because you can't say "nobody

The third is that everybody loves numbers, regardless of where they come
from, and these are the best kind of answers, regardless of whether the
numbers are true.

Bialik's article mentions a press release from the National Retail
Federation, which concerns the holiday shopping over the Thanksgiving

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