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Skip the ‘Spin’; Let's Practice Honest Journalism

How you write can be as important as what you write.

We journalists disdain “spin” from politicians, and even give it that antiseptic name when we don't want to call it what it is: "lie"

Journalists are often no better.

For example, the Associated Press could have gone one of three ways with the lede to its Social Security advancer that moved this past Sunday:

TOO ROSY

Social Security recipients can look forward to another increase in monthly benefits come January.

Preliminary figures show the annual benefit boost will be the second highest in the past four years.

NEUTRAL

Social Security recipients don't have to worry about not getting an increase in monthly benefits come January, but it won't be much.

Although they received no increase in two of the past three years, their annual benefit boost should be between 1 percent and 2 percent, preliminary figures show.

TOO NEGATIVE

Social Security recipients shouldn't expect a big increase in monthly benefits come January.

Preliminary figures show the annual benefit boost will be between 1 percent and 2 percent, which would be among the lowest since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975.

SO ...

All are accurate, factually speaking. Guess which one the AP wrote? The last one, of course!

Mose wonders, after 40 years in the news business, why the media so often insist on being a parody of themselves, reinforcing those old stereotypes about our trading on conflict and negativity.

In fact, the AP's "spin" led one Florida newspaper to run this erroneous headline: Social Security benefit boost lowest since ’75

Take care with not only what you write, but how you write it.

Practice honest journalism.

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