Unbelievable. Mike Wise, a Washington Post sports columnist, checked his common sense at the office door yesterday.
Before reading this story on the State of the Fourth Estate today, my immediate reaction was one of perplexity. I love commentaries by Post sports columnist Michael Wilbon, and former Post sports columnist Tony Kornheiser.
Wilbon and Kornheiser tag-team on arguably the best sports program on television, Pardon the Interruption, on ESPN. I watch PTI on TV. I listen to the PTI podcast when I can’t catch it live. I love it. No, I will not marry it.
In my mind, the Post carries a certain sense of credibility that immediately popped into my head.
Wise isn’t a believer in Twitter. Okay. I don’t like it either. It’s a Facebook status on cocaine. But I respect the power of the medium. Wise didn’t.
He decided it would be a worthy experiment to test his theory that people will repost news from a credible social media source without further fact checking. He tweeted several completely false stories on his Twitter account in an effort to bait the local media into picking up the “insider” information.
Mike’s not exactly living up to his last name at this point.
As Fourth Estate author Dave Levy pointed out, Wise gets credibility from the organization for which he works. People, myself included, attach a level of trust with the Washington Post moniker.
Remind me why the industry is surprised that only 8 percent of the American public has a “great deal” of confidence in the national news media. Better yet, 18 percent of the people surveyed in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll had a confidence level of zilch. “None at all.”
Levy succinctly rounded out his prognosis of the situation:
“Mike, nobody checks *your* facts, because you are a sports writer for one of the three most important newspapers in the country. You better believe they will now.”