Fact checking the news

When widely followed public figures feel free to say anything, without any fact-checking, we have a problem. It becomes impossible for a democracy to think intelligently about big issues — deficit reduction, health care, taxes, energy/climate — let alone act on them. Facts, opinions and fabrications just blend together. But the carnival barkers that so dominate our public debate today are not going away — and neither is the Internet. All you can hope is that more people will do what Cooper did — so when the next crazy lie races around the world, people’s first instinct will be to doubt it, not repeat it.

Who is really a journalist?

A journalist serves the people.
It cracks me up (a.k.a. pisses me off) when a supposed journalist says he is trying to help a company, no matter how small or scrappy, by posting an article about that company.

A journalist’s calling is to inform and serve the Third Estate — that is, the people with little or no power or influence in this world. Not politicians, not capitalists, not moral or religious leaders. In telling all sides of a story for the benefit of the proletariat alone, it is often the case that some companies and some individuals will also profit, at least to the extent that they operate in the best interest of the masses.

Journalists are accordingly called upon to be doubly skeptical (in the original sense) as compared to the average citizen. They’re not only looking out for their own best interest; they’re also attempting to safeguard that of their fellow human being and, when necessary, warn him of possible danger.

Comparing and contrasting bloggers with journalists, Jolie O'Dell explains a few fundamentals of journalism.

Yes it is, no it isn't: a roundup on the iPhone 4 signal "issue"

At this point, there's no longer any question in our minds that the iPhone 4's antenna can be made to lose signal by holding it "wrong" -- and we definitely think it's more than a little silly that simply holding the phone in your left hand has been nicknamed the "death grip."

That said, however, it's not at all clear what the real-world effects of the antenna issue actually are for most people -- as we've repeatedly said, several iPhone 4s owned by the Engadget staff (including our review unit) have never experienced so much as a single dropped call, while others suffer from signal issues that results in lost calls and unresponsive data in a dramatic way. What's more, at this point Apple's sold well over two million iPhone 4s, and we simply haven't heard the sort of outcry from users that we'd normally hear if a product this high-profile and this popular had a showstopping defect. Honestly, it's puzzling -- we know that the phone has an antenna-related problem, but we're simply not able to say what that issue actually means for everyday users.

So we're doing what we can do: we've collected reports from every member of the Engadget staff who's using the phone, as well as reached out to a variety of tech industry colleagues for their experiences. As you'll see, most of our peers seem to be doing perfectly fine with their iPhone 4s...