WaMo tilt coverage: Slanted?

August 25, 2011

The Erik Wemple Blog’s Wednesday obsession with Fox News’ erroneous reporting about the “tilting” Washington Monument drew the following tweet, among others:

“I’m no fan of Fox News or Megyn Kelly, but I’m not sure this warrants a WaPo hit piece during an earthquake. strez.at/9Z0u” The comment came from @SteveStreza.

Thanks, @SteveStreza, for reading and commenting. Though I disagree with the commenting. Reasons for the coverage:

1) Virality. The Fox report made the rounds. As National Park Service spokesman Bill Line said, the agency got phone calls from people concerned about the uprightness of the monument. Had Fox News not reported on the suspected tilt, those calls and concerns would’ve gone away.

2) Journalism. Fox got this “tilting” tip from what it described as a D.C. police officer---a fact that raises all kinds of questions about how the network filters tips. As I noted, it didn’t check with the National Park Service, the instrumentality that actually oversees the landmark. But what about, like, just sending someone down to the monument to have a look at the thing? Take some footage! Fox didn’t appear to have taken that step, either.

3) Iconography. We’re not talking about some junior-varsity monument here. It’s the Washington Monument---D.C. version, not Baltimore version. If this thing’s tilting, that’s a huge story.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.
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