Cold Hard Wonk

No sentiment but politics

Anatomy of A Tabloid

Posted by JJ in Bad Press, Vague Check (Thursday October 5, 2006 at 6:40 pm)

Let’s say you’re a journalist. You hear a rumour that the current Prime Minister rarely meets with the figurehead Governor-General. Partisan employees of two past PMs, both from the party opposed to the current Prime Minister, emphasise that their PMs met with the former Governor-General more often.

A historian, constitutional expert, and former MP from the same party as the two employees tells you that there’s nothing unusual or improper about these officials having more or fewer meetings. You confirm that the Prime Minister and Governor-General have formally met only once, but have met on other occasions, and spoken regularly. Neither the Prime Minister’s nor the Governor-General’s offices are willing to comment.

The question: Do you have a story?

You bet your online journalism degree you do! You just need to figure out what it is.

Since the only suggestion of a problem comes from highly biased sources and is contradicted by your own investigation, you can’t actually claim that there’s a problem. But then, who in their right mind would rely on your investigative work? You’re a tabloid reporter, not a respectable source of information! So that evidence can’t be as strong as your own findings suggest.

But how to express that? Of course! Make a shocking suggestion, add a question mark to show that you don’t necessarily claim it’s true, and wait for the papers to fly off the shelves!

To wit: Trouble Between PM and GG?

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