This article was originally published on: THE DENVER POST

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Re:  “Is social media destroying the news?” March 24 Daniel Petty column.

Business woman sitting in cafe and using tablet pc

Does Daniel Petty realize that he is reintroducing a 20th century argument about media in a new form?  I refer to the case made by Marshall McLuhan, who said, “The medium is the message.”  Change is here again, but do I want to wake up to what amateurs are texting rather than read The Denver Post and other newspapers?

Petty does mention the importance of fact-checking, our most important defense against amateur reporting.

I gained 15 minutes of fame in 1966 for an article I published in Esquire magazine headlined “In Cold Fact.”  In that essay I proved that Truman Capote had changed the facts in his “nonfiction novel,” “In Cold Blood,” to fit better his desire to attack capital punishment.  A research editor at the magazine also checked my facts by calling my interviewees in Kansas to verify that I was quoting them accurately.

Indeed, fact-checking is a form of replication used in science to fulfill our pragmatic definition of truth.  Repeating the methods of a claimant helps determine the truth or falsity of the claims.

Phillip K. Tompkins, Denver

Re: “We’re all responsible for the state of social media,” March 25 editorial.

Your editorial refers to journalists as gatekeepers and slaves to the facts. Really? Just how does a reader trust any news outlet that has a policy of quoting anonymous sources? News outlets often quote anonymous sources who are breaking their ethical, perhaps contractual, bond with their organization or employer. If the source was not authorized to speak, why are news letting them break the rules?

And just how should a reader do his own due diligence when the source quoted is not named?

You are what you accuse social media of being. Sadly, you, of all places, should know better.

Your focus in last Sunday’s Perspective section on the news vs. social media was a real hoot. Your decades of “advocacy journalism” have come home to roost. If Donald Trump’s election has taught you anything, it should be that few people trust you anymore to give them fair and unbiased news. It seems to me that if you want to survive, you will stop the nonsense and give us the real news.






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