Thursday, September 13, 2012



As we approach the elections, news stories become increasingly easy to confuse with political advertisements. Though I’m generally a huge fan of fiction, when it comes to political reporting, I find myself in the Joe Friday camp.

That’s right Ma’am, just the facts.

When a news story involves a candidate’s claims of past successes, I expect the claims will be confirmed by the news source, and the results of this fact-checking will be included in the story. By definition, news sources should be involved in verifying their sources, in substantiating claims, in authenticating, & corroborating.

This brings me to celebrate once more, the synonyms entries found in any decent, grown-up dictionary. My 1959 Webster’s New World Dictionary offers these synonyms & definitions for verify. These words, I submit, provide a healthy mantra for reporters, readers, listeners & viewers during this election season.

confirm is to establish as true, that which was doubtful or uncertain

substantiate suggests the producing of evidence that proves or tends to prove the validity of a previous assertion or claim

corroborate suggests the strengthening of one statement or testimony by another

to verify is to prove to be true or correct by investigation, comparison with a standard, or reference to ascertainable facts

authenticate provides proof of genuineness by an authority or expert

validate implies official confirmation of the validity of something

Dear followers, please respond by either complimenting news sources you’ve found that seem to see the above as part of the day’s work, or mentioning those sources that flagrantly ignore the above responsibilities. You might also suggest other mantras that might help us in these politically polarized times.  

My thanks go out to this week’s sources,, The OED, & Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, 1959.


  1. There's a cute picture in my Facebook feed of "your brain on facts" (chimp hugs tiger kitten) vs. "your brain on Fox" (chimp aims gun at everybody.) But yanno--confirming, substantiating, verifying,authenticating and validating takes sooo much time. Why do that when you can kill people first?

  2. I looked up "media" : the means of communication with wide range and influence. I looked up "influence": the power to produce effects on others...the power to persuade or obtain advantages. I think the media needs to look itself up in the dictionary and own its profound "responsibility" : the state or FACT of being responsible.

  3. Hi Christine & Anne,
    Great to hear from you. Christine, bravo for hitting the dictionary (whether digital or otherwise). I love this stuff. Anne, I really do believe a huge contributor to our polarized politics is the collection of tiny variables which cause each of us to believe in our new sources of choice. Historically, the victor has written the history, but these days it seems the history is pre-written by our chosen media sources. What to do, what to do?