Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Nine Cheers for ABC News

It is unclear how much accuracy of content really matters in a State of the Union address. Those who hear what they wanted to hear are happy. Those who heard what they did not what to hear are unhappy. Whether or not what either side heard is actually accurate no longer seems to be part of the equation.

In such a time in which communication seems to serve little more than contention, ABC News should be cited for at least trying to subject Obama's text to serious fact checking. To do this they broke the text down into nine issues and assigned each issue to a separate fact checker, presumably one experienced enough to understand the bigger picture and assess how (if at all) what Obama said fits into that picture. Needless to say, a project of this scope is beyond anything ABC is likely to broadcast. (Given the current state of media in this country, it is probably beyond anything PBS is likely to broadcast.) Recognizing that this material is better given a close reading, rather than television viewing, ABC News then created a Web page for the full analysis, complete with hyperlinks to each of the nine issues.

BBC News has a good reputation for using their Web site to dig deeper into analyses that will not easily "fit" their broadcasting on either radio or television; and it is good to see that ABC News has made a noble attempt to adopt that practice.

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