Megan McArdle: Jussie Smollett's story was theatrical. We should have been cautious from the start

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  • Third try screen name Mapleton, UT
    Feb. 24, 2019 8:44 a.m.

    We would not have heard of this without the aid of journalists. It would have simply disappeared at the police station as another nuisance complaint. "Sure lady. We'll look into it."

    Except for three pitfalls of today's reporters and editors:
    1) Anything to discredit Trump and his supporters is worthy of publication.
    2) Protected classes (and Jussie had two) get special attention.
    3) If social media picks it up, we must keep up with their activity to remain relevant.

    As for verifying a story, journalists spend more time protecting themselves from libel suits than checking sources. The most important consideration is being able to quote someone (even another news source,) rather than finding someone else to vouch for the story.

    You can be wrong together; just don't be the one who winds up in court.

    Rather than rising above new media, they are grovelling in the mud with them. And news consumers see no difference between the two.