Friday, May 16, 2008

"Fact" Finding

Here is an example of how you can find support on the Internet for virtually any belief you may hold. After an argument with my brother-in-law, with whom I share a residence, I found several articles on the important topic of our discussion: the proper way to install a roll of toilet paper. 

Most of the Web "experts" declared that the proper way  is the "over the top" method, supporting the B-I-L's stance on the subject. My preference though, due to years of habit, is the "under" method—the way my Mama taught me.

Undaunted, I continued researching until I landed on an article by Brian Mathis on his blog. I now consider Brian, who writes about technology, to be a renowned authority on this vital subject. And I consider myself fully vindicated, even though one site I viewed had surveyed its users and reported they preferred the "over" method by about 10:1.


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 realestate@sfchronicle.com." (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.