R-E-S-E-A-R-C-H: Find out what it means

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In a world with a 24-hour news cycle, journalists and media services have become far more inclined to rush stories than ever before. 

There seems to be more credibility in breaking a story than covering a story from all angles and print an hour later than competitors. 

So what happens when a fallacious story slips its way into this crazy world? 

What happens is this: the Huffington Post and Yahoo! News post news stories claiming the Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill into law that would make menstruation murder. 

Yesterday, a rumor circulated that revolved around Arizona House Bill 2036, which bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This somehow led to a slew of less-than-notable news sources, such as Examiner.com, to print the following falsehood: “A new law signed by Jan Brewer on Thursday states that, in Arizona, pregnancy begins two weeks before conception. This law reduces the amount of time that a woman has to get an abortion…” 

Now, yes, if a state in this country actually decided to do something as crazy as grant the right to life to a unfertilized ovum, the public should be notified, but one would hope that with a story so ridiculous, journalists would think twice before running off with a half-brained rumor. 

First of all, H.B. 2036 was actually passed in April, outlets picking up this story should have noticed the oddity of an old law creating new news. And, secondly, if these journalists had stopped to read the actual legislation they would have quickly discovered the error in the rumor. 

Although the Huffington Post and Yahoo! News later removed their coverage of the nonexistent law, their sites never displayed a retraction or a correction. 

Yes, it would be embarrassing for them to admit as a journalistic institution they simply didn’t bother with a little thing called facts. It is important to admit guilt when wrongdoing has been done, especially when it could affect the public. 

Matthew Hendley, of the Phoenix New Times, was one of the few journalists to publish a column disputing the alleged idiocy, “Arizona Did Not Declare That Pregnancy Begins Before Conception.” Hendley’s piece was not written in defense of Gov. Brewer or out of spite against larger news outlets, but rather to simply explain the real story. 

More journalists, and the outlets that hire them, need to be held accountable for the manner in which they report rather than the speed of reporting the story and how much hype is caused in its path. 

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