How's holiday shopping? Dale Dougherty analyzes "how news is made" by examining a press release from the National Retail Federation and showing how "sloppiness and lazy thinking coupled with a herd mentality, most especially in business journalism" turned it into "a headline, a sound-bite, and eventually a story." 
The NRF's claim that shoppers spent $28 billion during Thanksgiving weekend was treated as factual by reporters, even though it was "based on a fairly small sample of people and questionable methodology." Dougherty found hundreds of news stories that used the NRF's numbers. "It really is as though reporters attended the same lecture and took down the same notes," he observes. "The funny thing is that this same news is made every year in the same way as reliably as the turkey at Thanksgiving. The Internet allows us to see how news is made, as though we were walking through a factory tour, and we can compare the very similar results of a mass production system. Turns out the news can be as fake as a department store Santa." 
Other SourceWatch resources
- Dale Dougherty, "How News is Made", BoingBoing, December 2, 2005.
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