Are you suggesting that vetting a story is the same as proving it? I hope not.
I am strongly suggesting that vetting the facts of a story of this magnitude equal proving it. If you can't vet the facts, the story would not hold up for print. If you can vet the facts, that is the proof.
This conversation got me thinking last night so during this morning's NYU conference call on one of my Media and Culture classes I decided to bring it up since the NYT article was pretty much the opening topic of conversation prior to starting anyway. I posited the question "In modern Journalism is the quality level of vetting of facts in a story of the magnitude of this type of political piece equal to proving the story as factual?"
The debate took all the 90 minutes plus longer for some of us who stayed on as long as we could.
The consensus was that first tier print media tends to be much more deliberate and concise in their vetting of stories as they take time to build a story with multiple sources and multiple resources, each cross checking themselves. The conversation brought up both Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass and how their conduct pushed print journalism to new levels of self scrutiny. Janet Cooke was also used as an example.
Broadcast media, with their 24/7 headline mentality seems to have less respect within the community for their vetting quality. Examples of errors were literally coming to fast for me to take notes. Suffice to say that Foxnews got the brunt of the criticism and one of their executive producers is a member of our class. He was somewhat quiet, though pointed out that in many cases the 30,000 foot level stories were correct even though the details were not always up to snuff and they considered "getting the story out" the top priority.
The primary example of vetting issues was the Dan Rather experience and how it went wrong, why and the ramifications both to the integrity of the media AND to how the media now vets material for broadcast or publication.
The general consensus on the NYT article was 1) the article spent too much of its time on the rumor aspect, 2) the focus should have been on the "potentials of impropriety" and 3) they would not have published without having all their ducks in a row.