THE TRUTH INDEXMeasuring the Validity and Believability of the News Interview Experience. Every day we watch, see, or hear interviews that make us w

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Measuring the Validity and Believability of the News Interview Experience.

Every day we watch, see, or hear interviews that make us wonder why the interviewee ever agreed to be questioned, especially in the legacy media. When we take the time to delve into the answers to this question, we find that a spokesperson, executive, or interview subject was attracted to an interview by the reporter's apparent promise that the interviewee would be fairly treated and would get a chance to "tell their side of the story". For those of us who have been in this circumstance, it is surprising how many times the outcome we expect is not even remotely close to the outcome the reporter promoted or delivered.

Interviews are Getting Tougher, Harsher

Journalism grows more relentlessly competitive, amoral, aggressive, and negative every day. Survey after survey demonstrates the public's belief that reporters often use deception and practice what I have come to call a kind of prophylactic humiliation. It is a technique where, no matter how good the news, at least one foible, faux pas, or pratfall needs to be included in each story to provide something only their journalists understand called "balance".

How Do You Judge the Value and Validity of an Interview?

News subjects, and the targets of advocacy and journalistic opinion need the means to judge the validity and believability of their news interview experience, the resulting stories or opinions, and of the behavior of the reporters who question them. As it turns out, there are a number of interesting ingredients in news interviews that can be subjected to truth-testing. The most important are the reporter's demeanor and behavior towards the news subject; the use of negatively charged words, phrases, and concepts, which tend to emotionalize an interview; and the kind and types of sources, if any, who contributed to the story through the reporter.

Here is an instructive interview description from the author Janet Malcolm.*:

*The Journalist and the Murderer, New York, Vintage Books, 1990, pp. 3-4

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Her observations hold true even for the most experienced interviewees.

Why Do This At All?

It’s time that news interview subjects quit bellyaching about what reporters did and talk with more specificity about how reporters did it and what reporters said.

I am an obsessive advocate of keeping the record straight, and how reporters behave is part of that record and reflects on what they report and how they report it. A part of what’s happening, especially on major stories, is that reporters are more about being in competition with each other than informing their audience. It’s all done under the guise of providing expanded information, but it’s more like serial editing of basic facts that may not even be correct, but become authoritative because no one challenges especially when they should be challenged.

The Truth Index

Below is the Truth Index Questionnaire, an assessment tool to help interviewees gauge the believability and credibility of news, interviews, stories, and reporters. Always question reporters directly to test their believability and credibility, and therefore the probability of more truthfulness of a story. Read and view the reporter's previous works ahead of time. Talk to others who have been interviewed by the reporter. Interviews are about your credibility, which only you can manage.

The lesson for me is, over the year: Truth never emerges from deception, disrespect, or insulting, aggressive behaviors.

When this era of journalism in America is analyzed in history, the main revelations will relate to aggressive over-reporting habits, the extraordinary reporting of known lies, fabrications, and falsehoods everyday for more than a thousand days, making these lies and falsehoods the truth and frightening nearly a hundred million Americans from taking the vaccine during Covid, and of course, the now dying Trump Phenomenon. More about these issues later as analyses of this era of journalism are released.



Remember, the higher the score, the lower the believability and validity of the information obtained.

1). Did the reporter personally witness what he or she is reporting about?

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2). Does the reporter have any specific knowledge about the topic prior to reporting about it?”

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3). Is the description and dialogue of opposing views balanced, equal, and fair?

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4). Is the story clearly biased, unbalanced, or unfair?

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5). How many emotionally charged, inflammatory, and negative words, phrases or concepts are used?

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6). How does the story, content, direction, and perception square with what the reporter told interviewees?

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7). How much surprise material was used during the interviews?

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8). How do observations of others present at the same news event compare with and support the reporter's version?

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9). How many anonymous sources are used?

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10). Was the reporter insulting, overly suspicious, or disrespectful?

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11). Does the headline appropriately reflect the content of the story?

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The Decency Sisters

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Jim  2

Edited by Anna Chu, The Lukaszewski Group’s Executive Editor. As an avid reader and creative writer, she is, among other projects, currently working on writing her first novel.

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