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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Wired starts posting corrections to stories where quotes cannot be sourced.

Many of us who cover the intelligent design controversy are bored and frustrated with dead-tree and big-hair media who cannot be bothered to get and keep facts straight, and instead try to cover the intelligent design versus Darwinian evolution controversy as if it were a replay of Inherit the Wind, without Spencer Tracy.

However, some media are still trying to get stuff right. Wired magazine seems to be trying to stop the epidemic of fiction writing under the label of fact. The mag has started to post notes to stories where the journalist was unable to confirm all the sources.

Of course, one thing this exercise does is demonstrate the superiority of online media over dead-tree/big hair media. Remember how useless it always was to get a “correction” to a dead-tree/big hair story, as in “Councillor John Honest has never been arrested for drunk driving. The Daily Flub regrets the error.”? (Yes, but why did the Flub go with the story without sourcing it properly? Shades of Newsweek.)

A fellow writer advises that Wired News will require freelance reporters to submit contact information for all named sources, and that therefore, writers may expect print magazines to begin doing the same soon, “so make sure you keep impeccable records from now on.” She’s right, of course, but we were always supposed to have been doing that anyway. I always did it without even thinking about it. What slipped at some of these places? Did they begin to believe in “survival of the fibbest”?

To find out more about my book on the intelligent design controversy, go to By Design or by Chance?

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