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  • Parallel

    Posted by James R. Rummel on January 31st, 2005 (All posts by )

    Law enforcement professionals have a wall that seperates them from their fellow man. A sucessful investigation of a crime is one that results in the arrest and conviction of the guilty.

    So that means that the only thing that matters is evidence. Stuff that will convince the judge or jury that this guy did this crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The detectives can speculate all they want, but if they don’t have something to back it up then they leave it outside the door when they walk into a courtroom. If they don’t then they’ll probably lose the case and their credibility will be questioned the next time they come in front of the judge. What’s worse is that the perp will walk and go on to commit more crimes.

    Of course, it’s an imperfect world. Sometimes a whole case is built on speculation, and sometimes someone is convicted when they shouldn’t be. We rightly see this as a miscarriage of justice, an instance when our society violates the very principles which make up its foundation. It’s where we all agree that the system breaks down.

    There’s another profession which affects us every day, which shapes the decisions we make for our future, and that profession is journalism.

    Journalists are supposed to have an even higher regard for the truth than law enforcement. If something doesn’t pass very rigorous criteria for fact checking, if it’s not reported by separate sources and if there’s no evidence in support, then journalists aren’t supposed to put it in their story.

    Cori over at Rantingprofs has found yet another egregious example of where the system has broken down.

    This isn’t news to the cops. It’s a given that anything a detective says to a reporter is probably going to be slanted and distorted beyond recognition. While the news media correctly see their role to be one of keeping a careful watch over government, they’ve allowed themselves to be convinced that they should be hostile no matter what the circumstances.

    While news media professionals might be able to bask in the perception of doing a good job, their customers aren’t so convinced. Follow that last link and you’ll see that Glenn is wondering if mainstream media can afford to wait ten years to clean up their act. I’m wondering if they’ll ever get around to it.

     

    One Response to “Parallel”

    1. Shannon Love Says:

      Journalism is the only profession I know of where claiming incompetence is a positive defense in a law suit.

      In America, for a public figure to win a lawsuit for libel they must show actual malice on the part of the reporter. If the reporter can just prove that they were an complete incompetent and destroyed a person’s reputation by accident, they get off scot free.

      There is no other profession in the modern world who is less legally and financially liable than journalist. I think that is one of the things that makes them so squirrelly .