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  • He Said/She Said Journalism

    Filed at 10:32 am under by Scott Somerville

    Here’s an example of the difference between “reality-based journalism” and the old “he said/she said” approach. Today’s big flap is over a claim that federally-funded crisis pregnancy centers are misleading women with false information about a link between abortion and breast cancer.

    The Washington Post gives one side of story and then allows a spokesman for the CPCs to give the other side of the story. The report, which was prepared by Democratic staffers at the request of Congressman Henry Waxman, says:

    The report said 20 of 23 federally funded centres contacted by staff investigators requesting information about a pregnancy were told false or misleading information about the potential risks of an abortion.

    The crisis pregancy center response was:

    Ms Ford said she agreed with pregnancy counsellors who tell women that abortion may increase the risk of breast cancer, infertility and a condition described by anti-abortion groups as “post-abortion syndrome”.

    “We have many studies that show significant medical problems associated with abortion,” she said.

    If I understand the concept of “reality-based journalism,” the new school of journalist would say it is sufficient to report that CPCs are misleading women, without hearing their side of the story.

    3 Responses to “He Said/She Said Journalism”


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    July 18th, 2006
    at 11:01 am

    The scientific consensus is overwhelmingly against there being a statistical link between abortion and breast-cancer. So, yes, a good journalist, while possibly including the CPC’s version of (un)reality, would point out that fact.


    Comment by
    Scott Somerville
    July 18th, 2006
    at 1:32 pm

    Mary, I’ve always said you’re the best online researcher I know. I was digging around through my own files this morning looking for a copy of that so I could post it. You’ve made my life vastly easier!

    Daryl, if you’ll take a look at the link Mary has so kindly provided, you’ll discover why I picked this particular example to discuss. I think you’ll see why I’m concerned about your notion of “reality-based journalism,” especially when we apply it to government-funded research on controversial issues.


    Comment by
    JJ Ross
    July 18th, 2006
    at 2:12 pm

    Except – if journalism can’t fix it for us, no matter how they do or don’t report (war news or research, school news, religion or politics), then it isn’t a journalism issue. I can’t think of anything dividing “us” that journalism could actually fix, with any possible reporting model. Can any of you, seriously? Public interest research for example, is a mass of screwed up issues long before it gets to some reporter justifying another day’s paycheck and some reader needing another day’s ammunition for ideological paintball.