Patterico's Pontifications


So Long, Artios

Filed under: Humor — Patterico @ 9:39 pm

Via Wizbang: It appears that anonymous blogger Artios has decided to call it quits.

Question for Journalists

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 6:22 am

I would like to throw open a question to any journalists (including journalism professors!) who may read this blog:

What, if anything, were you taught — in school, on the job, or both — concerning the use of the word “apparently” in a news article?

Why do I ask? Because the Los Angeles Times recently alleged that Justice Scalia had “apparently” ordered a deputy U.S. Marshal to confiscate and erase recordings of a speech of his. In this blog post, I noted that the allegation appeared unsupported, and that the story reporting that allegation failed to reveal significant facts to the contrary. It now appears clear that the allegation was false.

In a comment to my post, a friend of mine who is a former journalist said that he had been taught in journalism school never to use the term “apparently” — ever. He says that concept was reinforced at the small-town papers where he had worked, and he was surprised to see the term used at a large and supposedly prestigious paper such as the Los Angeles Times.

As a non-journalist, analyzing the question based only on common sense, I don’t know that I would forbid the use of the word entirely. If you lay out all of the relevant facts on both sides, and those facts justify the use of the word, I can see how it could be used under certain circumstances.

But I also understand why journalists would be taught to avoid the word — to ensure that lazy suppositions based on incomplete information are not falsely reported as fact. Ironically enough, that is exactly what just happened at the Times.

Would the practicing (or teaching) journalists among you please comment on this issue?

(Cross-posted at Oh, That Liberal Media, where there may be different comments.)

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