Something worth producing:

With all the apparent media gaffes in Rathergate, it would be helpful if someone put up a page listing (1) each error or likely error by a major media outlet, (2) an explanation of why it’s an error, preferably with links to evidence that it’s an error, (3) a description of what the media outlet did (if anything) to correct it. This would include seeming errors such as the NPR/ABC Note allegation that a post questioning the accuracy of the documents came suspiciously early, the apparent Boston Globe misquote of a forensic expert, the apparent overstatement by CBS about which documents its expert looked at, and more.

Of course, mistakes happen, in the major media as well as elsewhere (even, horror of horrors, on this very blog). But mistakes are an opportunity for people to learn; I would hope that journalism scholars and journalism students will study this rather public controversy, both in classes and in their scholarship. They’re also an opportunity to remind people to maintain a healthy skepticism, and to provide a healthy antidote for the periodic big media blog-bashing that we’ve seen in the recent past and we’ll see again.

In any case, I think this list would be a great resource for people to refer to, both now and later. Unfortunately, right now this data is strewn over many posts on many blogs — if someone aggregates it and verifies it, that person will be doing a public service, and I’d wager say will get a good many hits on his blog.

My sense is that the list should include fairly material errors, as well as charges that aren’t proven errors but still seem pretty credible: For instance, when a forensic expert claims he was misquoted in a newspaper article, it’s possible that he’s mistaken and the newspaper was correct; but his allegations (unless they seem not credible for some reason) raise a substantial question about the article’s accuracy. They should also be written in a calm, impartial tone, and should avoid overstatement and error themselves. And it would be nice if they were formatted as clearly and readably as possible.

In any event, I’m too swamped right now to do something like this, but I think it would be great if someone undertook this project.

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