Press Gazette, Wings Over Scotland and journalism by assertion

THE IMPORTANCE in journalism of verifying sources of facts can not be overstated. The general rule is that any fact of importance reported by a journalist should be verified by at least two trustworthy sources. AhDinnaeKen investigates a report in yesterday’s online Press Gazette claiming that pseudo-political website Wings Over Scotland raised over £100,000 via crowdfunding:

"Most media organisations have a rule that all facts should be confirmed by two reliable sources." - Media helping Media.  Seems that's not the case at the Press Gazette any longer.

“Most media organisations have a rule that all facts should be confirmed by two reliable sources.” – Media helping Media. Seems that’s not the case at the Press Gazette any longer.

By Hookline Ansinker

“WINGS OVER Scotland raises £100k via crowdfunding” trumpeted the online version of the Press Gazette yesterday.

AhDinnaeKen read the story – and the comments below the line – a couple of times and cannot vouch for its veracity.

A grave state of affairs given that this is the prestigious Press Gazette, with a reputation to maintain, and not just a cheerleading blog for Wingsy.

You see, the story appears to have broken a couple of the basic tenets of journalism ie it has not verified or corroborated its facts from a trustworthy independent source.

This state of affairs is reinforced, ironically, by the Jedi Reverend Campbell himself who picked up on three small alleged inaccuracies reported in the piece: 1) the timing of the alleged passing of the £100,000 mark, 2) the number of unique readers of his site and 3) the very very basic spelling of his name. (At the time of writing these inaccuracies have been corrected – source Jedi Rev Campbell)

Hardly a confidence builder in the veracity of the story which leads with the line, “A pro-independence Scottish political website has raised more than £100,000 via crowdfunding in the space of a couple of weeks.”

The only sources quoted or referred to in the story are Campbell himself and someone called Amanda Geary of the University of the West of Scotland.

It’s notable by its absence that Amanda’s authority or expertise in the field, or whatever she is, isn’t revealed – she could be a tea lady for all the reader knows.

Keen readers will also note that Amanda’s University is the same University which employs Professor John Robertson – the professor who recently couldn’t back his research data when he claimed that the BBC’s news reports were biased against independence.

To paraphrase Scottish comedienne, Karen Dunbar, “Do I smell shite?”

Far be it from the likes of AhDinnaeKen to question the integrity or veracity of the Press Gazette’s reporter, Ray Clancy, but we*’d like to know just one thing:

Was the alleged figure of £100k+ raised, independently verified by Ray?

There is not one line in the story which suggests that the figure was verified independently. In fact, Campbell’s BTL comment on inaccuracies suggests that the source was Campbell himself – hardly trustworthy in this instance.

If the figure wasn’t independently verified, it can only be concluded that this story highlights the scourge of modern online journalism – journalism by assertion.

Professional journalism, to maintain its integrity must, with the emphasis on MUST, be journalism by verification.

Otherwise it’s mere propaganda and undermines its role in society.

As a recent blog by AhDinnaeKen highlighted, it is perfectly feasible and possible for an Indiegogo fundraising recipient to re-route monies raised in a ‘Flexible’ campaign straight back into the said Indiegogo account.

Campbell has been notably prickly when questioned on this. But he’s never actually shut down potential detractors by providing verifiable evidence.

Coincidence or magic? You decide!

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3 Comments

Filed under Media, Opinion, Wangs Watch

3 responses to “Press Gazette, Wings Over Scotland and journalism by assertion

  1. Alec

    The root of it, I’d say, is the spirit of responsibility-free ‘optimism’ which has buoyed much of the political and media debate in Scotland over recent years. Even for pro-Union commentators, there was a fission of delight at Salmond’s cocking a snoop at the English… what, however, was once seen as his cheek opportunism and resourcefulness of the underdog now is being seen as a liability and boorish aggression.

    Yet, still there remains the thought that Scotland is special because… well… she just is. See the more reasonable proponents of a currency union resorting to a plaintive plea that they “cannot believe a UK Government would go against its interests in the event of YES”.

    Well, of course. The only problem is that Scotland as an entity is not nearly as important to those interests as Uncle Alex has led them to believe.

    That said, no matter how much money Campbell has raised, is he declaring it to the taxman?

    ~alec

  2. Professor John Robertson

    Ahkenwhyyergettinsaefewcomments – telling fibs aboot Prof Robertson (ah’ll show yeh ma reearch tools ya wee…) and the delightfully Anglo Saxon Amanda.

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