November 16, 2009

Odd Sourcing by ABC News

First, and perhaps most importantly, it's good work by ABC News to find all the massive B.S. that you can read about at -- relatively large amounts of money spent in congressional districts that do not exist, jobs saved that did not seem to ever exist in the first place, and so on.  Charitably, the "9th Congressional District" in Arizona (Arizona only has 8 districts) may refer to something other than one particular Congressional district, or some other geographical division of Arizona, and everything is called a "Congressional District" because someone putting together the otherwise rather-slick website doesn't know the difference between a Congressional District and some other kind of governmental unit.

But what's really odd is that the ABC News story appears to be replete with links -- but almost all of those links are to other ABC News stories.  Very few of them are to any kind of particularized source material and the only link to the actual government website containing bogus data is to the front page of the website.  You have to drill down and do your own research on that website -- which is actually pretty non-intuitive and difficult to find -- in order to verify the information that ABC is reporting.  (Here, for instance, is all the money being spent in Arizona, sorted by district, which reports a lot of non-existent districts.)

When I comment on something, I try to include direct, supporting links.  When you click on a link here, you'll typically get a direct link to my source material.  That's kind of how blogs work; because we bloggers don't write and publish bibliographies but the convention is to link to what you're basing your commentary on.  ABC News, however, seems to prefer to refer almost exclusively to itself -- even when the actual source material is one hyperlink away.

So, here's a major "bullshit!" call out to, and here's a "whafuck?" call out to ABC News.

1 comment:

Matt Parker said...

I agree that the recovery site is less helpful than it can be, and that ABC and other news organizations should look deeply into the ARRA funding. That being said, clearly there are data entry errors in the congressional district mapping, and City/Zip are more accurate. For example, the summary view for AZ shows 32K being spent in district 18, which doesn't exist. However, the project in question clearly exists in Parker, AZ.