Filtering and challenging information

When asked about her work, a Web site programmer responded, "filtering for an impatient reader is a huge part of our job." 1 She and those who work with her have much information at their disposal, and they provide a service by presenting the reader the important parts. Newspaper editors and television news directors have long provided this service, sifting through available news stories and selecting the most important or interesting stories to put in the newspaper or the newscast.

Reporters and some editors begin the process of filtering much earlier in the reporting process by questioning the veracity of available information. Journalists use what a media critic describes as "the innate skepticism of reporters" 2 to double-check facts and question assertions by their sources. The two reporters interviewed for this paper agreed. "It is always my job to investigate and follow up," said the newspaper reporter. "Like the old journalism saying goes, if your mother tells you she loves you, check it out." 3

"So often people want and do give us slanted stuff and we must determine if it's true," said the television reporter. "Almost everything I get I must verify one way or the other if it is fact. Failing to do so ruins your credibility with viewers and erodes the quality of your information." 4

"Voices of liars have to be heard, too," added the television reporter when asked whether getting all sides of a story is important to his work. "That's his story of how things happened; let him tell it, just counter it with the truth and documentation." 5