"Facts aren't the truth," said Clarence Barron, a co-founder of the Wall Street Journal. "They just indicate where the truth may lie." A great lesson for journalists, or anyone else, who might mistake facts for truth.
Think of your own life and all the factual details of your biography: birthdate, place of birth, names of parents, occupation. All facts. But the truth? The truth is who you are, always a much more subtle and complex thing. You can fit a universe in the space between what's accurate (facts) and what's true.
Let's take a couple of today's print Chronicle headlines (the online headlines will differ). "2 SHOT DEAD FOR NOTHING IN S.F.", the lead story on (PDF) the front page. Inside the B section: "6 weekend killings not linked, cops say". Both of those statements are facts, as they accurately quote cops in SF and Oakland, scenes of the apparently unconnected deaths. The stories are full of rich factual detail by our prodigious and scrupulous reporters, Jaxon Van Derbeken and Henry Lee.
Likewise, our print headline writers were doing their jobs perfectly: accurately reflecting the facts of those stories.
But neither headline is true.
This blog originally appeared on sfgate.com. To read the rest, click here.
Causes Phil Bronstein Supports
Good Ones; anything involving the possibility of redemption.