Thursday, May 1, 2008

Story Fishin'

This item appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on April 30, 2008:

"The Chronicle is interested in speaking with people who are now seeking or have just bought residential property in the nine-county Bay Area. We're particularly interested in talking with first-time home buyers who think the real estate slump makes homes more affordable to them, as well as investors who see this as a good buying opportunity. If you'd like to talk, please e-mail a brief description of your situation to" (Italics mine.)

Well, now, it seems the writer at the Chronicle ("reporter" would be too generous a description), already has his or her mind made up about what the story is. "Story-fishing" has always been a part of journalism, and this request for quotable quotes and supportive anecdotes exposes the practice pretty clearly. So when you read the newspaper, be sure to ask yourself if the "news" it carries is dependable. Might just be a reflection of the writer's personal opinions, preconceptions, or a not-so-well hidden agenda.

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