I am not an investigative reporter, and don't even think of myself as a "citizen journalist". But maybe I could give lessons in investigation.
Sharyl Attkisson has been a reporter at CBS for 15 years; her current title is "investigative reporter" and her area is "government spending and taxpayer issues". However, she has also aired some stories on the disproven hypothesis that there is a connection between vaccination and autism. Ms. Attkisson's pieces tend to perpetuate the mistaken idea that there is a connection (here and here, for example)--sufficiently biased to label Ms. Attkisson as a vaccine rejectionist.
Recently, Attkisson's journalistic objectivity, diligence in investigation, and use of sources have been called into question.
The Society for Professional Journalism's Code of Ethics reads in part:
- Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
- Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
- Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability.
- Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
Part One of Attkisson's questionable journalistic ethics: the content and tone of the July 25, 2008 piece, "How Independent Are Vaccine Defenders?"
Part Two of Attkisson's questionable journalistic ethics: the almost simultaneous transmission of a letter of protest from the director of Voices for Vaccines to CBS and the publication of the contents of said letter on a militantly anti-vaccination website, Age of Autism. (You can download V4V_to_CBS_retraction_demand.pdf by clicking on the link.)
My question is: how much of Attkisson's "investigating" consists of rewriting and rewording statements from principals at the advocacy--even propaganda--organization, Age of Autism?