Here We Go Again

by Roger Pynn

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’m here today to remind folks in the news media about the importance of attribution.  Yesterday’s lead story in USA TODAY (10.16.12) by Susan Page (@susanpage) was so lacking in attribution as to be funny, if it weren’t for the fact that untold thousands of readers may have been swayed by it to vote one way or another in the upcoming presidential election.

Reporting on a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, the story said GOP nominee Mitt Romney had pulled ahead of President Barack Obama by four percentage points among likely voters in the nation’s top battleground states.

The attribution ends there as Ms. Page makes statements like this:

“The battle for women, which was apparent in the speakers spotlighted at both political conventions this summer, is likely to help define messages the candidates deliver at the presidential debate tonight and in the TV ads they air during the final 21 days of the campaign.  As a group, women tend to start paying attention to election contests later and remain more open to persuasion by the candidates and their ads.”

Says who?  It may well be true, but is it too much to ask a reporter to tell me who determined that?  Otherwise, I throw it in the recycle bin never knowing if what I read was worth what I paid ($1.00 by the way) for the paper.

Susan goes on:

“That makes women, especially blue-collar ‘waitress moms’ whose families have been hard-hit by the nation’s economic woes, the quintessential swing voters in 2012’s close race.”

Here’s a note to Susan’s boss David Callaway:  either label it “Insight” or “Opinion,” or make your reporters do the old-fashioned thing and give someone credit for what they are saying.

(P.S.  This has nothing to do with my political opinion.  I’m a Romney supporter and loved the premise that my candidate is surging … but my journalistic roots die another death when I see this stuff.)

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