"What's more important to the media," the campaign worker asks, "the facts of a story or the emotion?"
It's a sobering question, but a fair one.
Sobering, because any self-respecting journalist would want to answer that of course it's the facts.
Fair, because we all know that's not the whole case.
After all, as the documentarian Werner Herzog so perfectly put it, if you want only the facts, just look in a phone book. Not everything's a story. If you want to push papers, if you want to drive page-views, you have to rely on the emotion that certain facts can elicit.
Readers know this, too. Most of us want to feel something when we take time to read a story. Procedural City Council reporting doesn't stand a chance against the allegations of corruption or the double homicide.
Political campaigns, likewise, want to stir emotion. And, as we have seen in our own area's House District 19 (starting here), Rep. Marsha Looper and House Majority Leader Amy Stephens have picked the facts that they think will create the visceral response that gets voters to the polls.
However, we have seen that these campaigns have also opted to use a little massage, interpretation and revision on some of the more stubborn, inconvenient facts.
That's when the media must step in and say, "While you make a compelling argument — and we love compelling arguments — we have to ask: Is it true?"
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