There was a lively debate, about what is journalism, in the comments of the post "Socratic Irony." Jim Johnson argued running press releases is journalism.
These stories were not spontaneously generated by the reporters, they were fed by PR hacks. Why shouldn't PR hacks send press releases to bloggers, too?
In fact, that is how most "news" is generated: reporters weed through dozens and dozens of press releases they get to determine what should be followed and what shouldn't.
The Fox News show Happening Now ran an anti-stimulus package press release from the Senate Republican Communications Center. Fox News even had the same error attributing a 2008 Wall Street Journal, as released in 2009. Fox News copied the press release verbatim.
Fox News was forced to admit it's error.
Yesterday on Happening Now we showed you how the stimulus bill has grown over time. Our story prompted by a news release from the Senate Republican Communication Center. There point that a $56 billion proposal in September has grown to $838 billion in five months. In compiling the story, our producers and researchers did what we always do -- we verified the accuracy of the material. But in double checking the newspaper quotes referenced in that news release we made the same mistake they did. We labeled a Wall Street Journal article as having run in 2009 THE WSJ piece ran in 2008. That was our error, and we apologize.
Merely running press releases isn't journalism. The need for fact-checking and research will always be a part of the best journalism. Socrates spent his life questioning authority, in search of the truth. Fox News treated the press release unquestioningly as the truth. The conservative movement prides itself on ignorance of journalism and economics. Conservatives need to acquaint themselves with the Socratic Method.
Socrates would ask a serious of questions to get to the truth. The Oracle of Delphi proclaimed Socrates the wisest man in Athens. Socrates did not believe this. He proceeded to question other Athens' citizens. Socrates's interviews made the philosopher realize he was the only Athens citizen aware of his own ignorance. What are the chances Fox News will do the same level of soul-searching?