W. Joseph Campbell

W. Joseph Campbell

Inside Media: Getting It Wrong

June 19, 2010

Guest: W. Joseph Campbell

Many great historical events have one thing in common: They contain media-driven myths, according to journalism professor and author W. Joseph Campbell.

Campbell, author of the new book "Getting it Wrong: Ten of the Greatest Misrepresented Stories in American Journalism," called the myths "prominent stories that are widely believed and often retold but under close inspection prove to be apocryphal."

Campbell said the purpose of debunking the long-term exaggerations was to give truth to stories that "just didn’t sound right." Many of the misrepresentations, he said, were products of a "misplaced sense of power to the news media."

"Taking the air out of [the myths] places news media and power in a more coherent context," he said.

Campbell places much of the responsibility for the misrepresentations in news stories on journalists who he said "have an obligation to press and quiz their sources for the veracity of the information."

The absence of this skepticism causes journalists to offer "simplistic explanations for complex historical events."

Campbell believes the solution lies in newsrooms that "encourage more intellectual viewpoint diversity."

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