One of the fundamental elements of good journalism is “show, don’t tell.” This means that reporting facts are preferred over interpretation or characterizations. But it’s not hard to see why distrust in the legacy media is ever-rising.
“Americans blame shutdown on Trump over Democrats by wide margin, poll finds” blares USA Today. Wide margin? The poll actually shows that:
When asked, “Who do you think is mainly responsible for this situation?” 53 percent of Americans told pollsters they blamed Trump and congressional Republicans.
Three points is a “wide” margin? Moreover, the story’s kicker admits that “The poll of 788 Americans was conducted Jan. 8-11 with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.” When the spread is less than the margin of error, that’s usually called a “split” or “close” race.
What more, this important fact isn’t revealed until the third paragraph. Given the fact that as many as 25 percent of American adults get their news from Facebook, and given that too many people never read past the headline, this is especially egregious. “Fake news”? No, but “Wrong” news? Absolutely.