NEW YORK – My very first serious job was as a fact-checker for Forbes magazine (now mostly a laissez-faire collection of blogs). I consider fact-checkers to be the altar boys of journalism. And, despite having left the church, I still feel a profound reverence for the holy truth.
So, in most of the discussion about business models occasioned by the sale of the Washington Post to Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, the values that I have held dear are being tarnished. How so?
Even reputable fact-checkers disagree on the origin of the famous admonition to journalists: “Comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable!” (They even disagree on whether it was first directed at preachers or at newsmen). In any case, journalism is one business in which the customer is not always right.