The Journalists’ Bar

Guest Opinion published June 30, 2017, Siskiyou Daily News

Is anyone curious about what the current journalism standard is to decide if a story is sufficiently verified to become “news”?  Most of the media today are satisfied if the sources for a story are two “officials” who choose to remain anonymous because they “are not authorized to speak on the matter.”

“Two anonymous officials” seems a bit arbitrary.  How about just “one anonymous official”?  Or maybe drop the “official” part? 

The media should probably drop any fact-checking requirement whatsoever.  Oops, my bad.  They already have.

I will give you a factual example from my personal knowledge, which you are free to believe.  Or not.

I was sitting at the bar at the Rex Club the other night at about 12:45 am.  I was sitting next to this guy who seemed to be really smart.  He said, authoritatively, “Donald trump is a liar.”

I asked, “Do you really think so?”

He replied, “Yes, and Hillary is also a liar.”

I realized immediately that I had a major scoop.  This was verified news.  The guy sitting next to me seemed smart.  And I was only on my second drink, if I remembered correctly.

I needed to get it to the media immediately.  Back in the day the reporters would make a mad rush to the payphones, whatever they were.  But what was the best way to do that now?  “I’ll Tweet it,” I thought.  But I remembered that I had only three Twitter followers; I did the math and decided it wouldn’t go viral quick enough.

So I emailed it to NPR, Fox, and the New York Times.  It went viral immediately.

That morning NPR reported, “Trump is a liar!!!  This according to an unnamed but reliable source who was quoting another unnamed but equally reliable source from our country’s heartland.”

Then I watched Fox News, which reported, “Breaking news, Hillary is a liar!!!  We have this from a very credible and well respected source from our nation’s most down-to-earth rural community.”

I checked out the on-line edition of the New York Times.  “This just in.  Trump is a bigger liar than Hillary.  Trump was named first in a liar’s list published by a prestigious journalist from the SDN, one of the western world’s most respected news outlets.”

Bob Kaster


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