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home : most recent : statewide implications August 17, 2018


4/30/2018 8:59:00 AM
COMMENTARY: Winner! Winner! Winner! news releases can't all be true

Bob Zaltsberg, Herald-Times Editor

Three examples of Fake News hit my in box last Monday evening within minutes of the end of the debate featuring the three candidates for the Republican nomination in the U.S. Senate race.

8:31 p.m.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 

Rokita Wins: Third Debate Victory, Clear Choice For Conservatives

Fort Wayne, IN — Tonight, following the Allen County GOP Debate, Hoosiers for Rokita released this statement highlighting Todd Rokita’s third debate victory ...

8:40 p.m.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Mike Braun wins Allen County Debate

Fort Wayne, IN — Tonight, Mike Braun won the Allen County GOP Debate against his two opponents, career politicians Todd Rokita and Luke Messer. The Braun campaign released the following statement ...

8:43 p.m.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Messer Wins Third Primary Debate

Indianapolis — Luke Messer was the clear winner in the third Indiana Senate primary debate held in Allen County tonight.

The sources of these promotions dressed up to mimic a news release were the campaigns for each candidate, of course. They were offering their opinion as if it were news.

It’s not a big surprise that the campaigns of each candidate declared their candidate the winner. They’ve been doing such things after debates for years, and it’s not news.

The difference now is that the campaigns don’t even attempt to make a distinction between something that could legitimately be considered a “news release” and this misleading attempt to portray an opinion as news.

This goes right along with the tone of this race, about which John Hammond III, the man who represents Indiana on the Republican National Committee, told the Associated Press: “This race has slowly but surely descended into Dante’s Inferno.”

Bona fide journalists consider something a news release when it offers information that can be verified. If a candidate takes a position that supports immigration restrictions, or tax reform or dismantling the Affordable Care Act — or opposes any or all of those things — a news release about the candidate’s positions would be of use to readers/voters and based in fact. It’s the candidate’s position. He or she holds those beliefs.

But please, don’t shape your message to look like a fact just so you can offer your opinion.

Who won last week’s Senate debate? Obviously, the opinions vary, as the three “news releases” that arrived 12 minutes apart illustrate. 

Of course, campaigns have the right to report why they believe their candidate won a debate. That’s all part of the political landscape.

But spare me faux news headlines and the “For Immediate Release” tags.

Think I’m making too much of this? The words of the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan are appropriate here:

“You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”

Copyright 2018, HeraldTimesOnline, Bloomington, IN






Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR


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