Reporter's Notebook

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Error in Fact

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Rainbows and Unicorns

Forbes said in a 2013 article that as of then, a million or more books were published in the U.S.  OK, except a New York Times article said that as of 2002, only 80,000 were published in the U.S.  OK, except I can’t believe the number of published books has jumped by 920,000 in 10 years.  I mean, Amazon is powerful but it’s not THAT powerful.  Especially with all of the dour talk about declining book sales, the introduction of Kindles way back when and the disappearance of Joseph Beth and Little Professor’s along the way.

But this isn’t about bookstores.  It’s about credibility of reporting.  Neither article cites its sources for its numbers.  Maybe because it’s Forbes and the Times, both editors felt company names speak for themselves then and now.  But as I work on my own book; a book I’ve sweated and cursed and exhausted myself over for the last three years, I wonder will people trust my research considering these plain and simple examples of journalistic inconsistency from those at much higher levels than me?

Like, when a well known writer for a well known media outlet told me by email that they didn’t know if a fact I quoted from a piece they’d written was correct.  Excuse me?  They didn’t say they couldn’t remember.  They didn’t say the facts had changed.  They said they didn’t know.  And as gingerly as I could, I prodded to know if they knew that as they were writing, or did they come to know it over time?  And either way, why would they put it in their piece or not offer a correction?

I have busted my ass to make this, my first book, to be as good as I can make it.  It may not be as good as I hope my writing will eventually be.  But I’ve been a reporter for a long time. I know how to research.  And I expect I also know how to tell the truth and how to feel like crap if I even suspect that I haven’t.,

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Written by Interviewer

February 14, 2018 at 02:54

Posted in Scratchpad

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