The mainstream media is so desperate for news its turning small items into major controversies and rumours into front page stories. We seem to have lost our sense of proportion, and traditional journalistic fact-checking has been replaced with speculation, gossip and rumour-mongering.
The Toronto Star’s National Affairs Columnist, James Travers, had a piece in that newspaper a day or two ago in which he mused about Michael Ignatieff being “touted as an eventual successor to Janice Gross Stein at the university’s [University of Toronto] prestigious Munk School of Global Affairs.” The newspaper published the column without, apparently, checking the facts with the subject of the piece, media-available Michael Ignatieff. What could have been more logical? So this idle speculation is published in a national newspaper and is immediately refuted by Ignatieff.
Is this the Star’s new way of checking sources: publish speculation and then ask the subject to confirm or deny?
And even after a firm denial, the speculation continues as a story being followed closely by the cable news networks. Our two national cable news networks are so poorly programmed, we’d be better served if they just showed a test pattern for about 16 to 20 hours a day and did their news coverage in the remaining four to eight hours—at least then we’d be more likely to get something worth watching and listening to.