I just finished reading the Forum section from Sunday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette entitled: "Think Like A Libel Lawyer." I found it to be a very interesting and thought provoking article. David McCraw, a libel lawyer and the author of this piece, is employed by The New York Times, as a press lawyer, who pre-empts possible lawsuits against the paper for libel (in essence a fact-checker). One method he uses is reading the article as if he is the subject of it and constructing possible arguments that an opposing lawyer could make against the paper. He is interested in the facts only: “Just the facts M'am,” as Sergeant Joe Friday use to say on "Dragnet." Because of a variety of factors, The New York Times and other papers have re-oriented their journalistic view to embrace a "reader-centered" perspective. What this means is you write for your base. Like statistics, facts can be twisted and omitted to construct a false narrative (called spinning).This makes it much easier for a journalist to spin the truth to fit their readership's ideology. It's like throwing red meat to hungry wolves. They will tear into it and look for more meat or, in this case, more newspapers to consume. Everything will be factual, thanks to Mr. McCraw, our libel lawyer, but the truth is lost. Unlike Sergeant Joe, our retort should be, "Just the truth, man!" Maybe they would sell more papers.
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