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April 21, 2016


Colum McCaffery

A question is how long did it take Michael to root out the truth. If it was a reasonably easy job, what the hell were the journalists who reported uncritically doing?

Michael Taft

Colum - I had actually done a blog on this very same issue a couple of years ago, so I had done up the work previously. To be fair to be journalists, most are working under such time-constraints that there is little if any time to take a critical look at claims. This is the case not just in business/economics but in a range of other areas. This is a feature of cutting the number of journalists (and contracting out) and the 24-7 news cycle.

Of the few journalists who should know, I suspect there is a tendency to assign credibility status to bodies like the NCC. They are right until proven wrong. However, the explanation of how or why they might be wrong is not susceptible to a sound-bite culture. In addition, wading through Eurostat databases and excel sheets takes time - time which most journalists don't have for reasons expressed above.

I share your exasperation about the state of critical journalism but this seems to be spread throughout the entire sector. Ultimately, it was the NCC that produced the contentious data, not the journalists. If there is fault, it lies with the NCC. And if the agenda can be driven by such - where people assume that they 'must know what they're talking - yes, it makes for a poor debate and, so, a poor democracy.

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