UPDATE (9/21/2012): WFMY scrubbed, without comment, the article referenced in this post. More about that, including a full copy of the vanished article here.
GREENSBORO, NC -- One of the most important activities of journalists is to check the claims of those in authority. That's why news organizations are often referred to as the lofty "fourth estate" — as in a fourth leg of the checks and balances of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of our republic.
This makes WFMY's willingness to republish the proclamations of local authorities without scrutiny all the more depressing. You see, it's not just the plagiarism; it's not just the inescapalbe dishonesty of WFMY putting their names to things they did not write — not just that "Written by WFMY" is a lie, and stealing, and a con — it is also that WFMY is giving its stamp of approval to the facts, tone and context asserted in the press releases it regurgitates. They are allowing themselves to be used. As tools. Useful idiots.
And that's dangerous.
Here's why. When WFMY vomits up a glowing press release that touts a local sheriff heading off to some "border training" sponsored by Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) without any of their own investigation, they miss the rather important fact that FAIR is tied to white supremacy and bigotry.
WFMY puts their stamp of approval on "stories" like this all the time without checking them out: "Written by WFMY," for what that's worth... which is proving to be not squat.
Update: Wait, what? WFMY has attached some happy video to the story that says the Alamance County sheriff is also going — the same sheriff who the U.S. Department of Justice accused yesterday of racial profiling.