In this space, you often will find me criticizing the mainstream media. My issue with the media these days is that not only do they tend to act like subservient lapdogs to the government and Corporate America, but they no longer seem interested in following leads like the journalists of old -- even when said leads jump up to slap them in the face.
Here's an example from the Aberdeen newspaper (sorry, no link to provide). The headline reads: Gold Buyer Plagued By Returned Checks. We learn that the company, in question, bounced its check for a full-page ad in the newspaper reporting the story. It is also noted that over 4,000 of this company's checks across the country have bounced.
Hmm. This would seem to indicate a widespread problem.
The newspaper reporter contacted the company's vice president of Media Relations. This fellow says the problem is that the company's bank abruptly closed their corporate account in the middle of a work week and has refused to honor all the checks the company wrote.
I don't know about you, but this reason sounds very fishy. Banks tend to curry to the business community and I find it difficult to believe that a bank would abruptly close such an account with no warning. Really, it sounds to me like a lame excuse for shoddy (or slimy) business practices.
Here's what gets me. There are no indications whatsoever in the article that the reporter contacted the bank itself! If somebody tells you something that doesn't seem to add up, what is it that most of us routinely do? We try to verify the information provided! It's commonsense.
One would think that a hard-nosed reporter would try to ascertain a) If the gold buying company ever had an account with this bank? b) If so, was the account abruptly closed and when was this done? and c) Why was it abruptly closed? These three pieces of information are crucial to allow the reader to assess the veracity of the company spokesperson.
Without this pertinent information, a reader will have to assess the statement's veracity based solely on feeling. Do I feel his explanation adds up?
But there is a big problem with adjudging others based solely on our feelings. Our feelings often steer us in the wrong direction!
In this present case, while it certainly feels to me like the company spokesperson merely is blowing smoke, he may be telling it like it is. Maybe there was a big misunderstanding and the company is not at fault at all. On the other hand, his explanation could be a huge pile of malarkey.
It is the job of journalists to ask questions. It is by asking tough questions and reporting the answers that readers are provided with enough information to make well-informed decisions. But how is a reader to do that when the most important questions are never asked?