Half Truths

November 05, 2007

The Pathway reported today that some land owned formerly owned by Windermere Baptist Conference Center will not be foreclosed as they had previously reported. The website of The Pathway calls today's story "Breaking News." Really? Ten days ago, Word&Way, Windermere Baptist Conference Center, and this blog all reported that. So not only does it not seem like "Breaking News" but it hardly even seems like news by now. As Windermere's press release noted, had The Pathway bothered to contact them they could have avoided printing the original inaccurate story. In today's piece, Missouri Baptist Convention attorney Michael Whitehead responds to Windermere's press release. In the process, however, he makes a pretty impressive admission. Windermere's President/CEO Dan Bench had stated that The Pathway should have contacted him first for information. To that Whitehead said:

Mr. Bench knows that communication between litigants about a pending case is legally sensitive, and can only occur if his attorneys approve.
Thus, Whitehead has just admitted that any story by The Pathway about the legal case is one-sided and biased. Now that even they have admitted that they do not even try to get the other side, why should anyone trust the stories they print? This should make it harder for the Baptist Press to justify running The Pathway's stories (I've already critiqued the Baptist Press for running the early inaccurate story despite being told by Windermere about problems with the article). The Baptist Press, who ran also ran the new story today, should not run stories that are admittedly only one-sided and biased. They cannot even hide behind the lawsuits to cover for their journalistic failures as The Pathway attempts since the Baptist Press is not a litigant in the case.

Whitehead also makes some inaccurate claims in the article, such as by trying to defend the earlier story's headline. He claimed that it did not mislead people, but both the Windermere press release and one of my blog posts pointed out that people did mistakenly think that Windermere Baptist Conference Center was being sold. Clearly, the headline and story did create confusion. How can we trust Whitehead's claim on that? Did he check with anyone to see if there was some confusion? Or did he, as he admitted in the article, just provide one side to the story?

Baptists Today editor John Pierce recently critiqued The Pathway and the Baptist Press for being "dishonest Baptist 'news' sources." Whitehead's admission that The Pathway is intentionally one-sided would seem to support Pierce's claim. For as the saying goes, "Beware of the half truth. You may have gotten hold of the wrong half."

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