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Half truths

Mark Twain said words to effect that to not read a newspaper left you ill-informed, but to read a newspaper left you mis-informed.

I used to have a cartoon on the wall of the newsroom I ran which showed a giant factory one side of a wide river and a small hut on the opposite side.  The factory had the word Lies Factory across its front while the hut said Truth.

A man in the foreground was talking with another man and the caption was “What do we do if we have a half-truth?”

It reminds me of the days when I was a reporter in London and had to cover a speech that Arthur Scargill gave in Trafalgar Square to all the assembled miners.  We reporters and film crews had been marshalled into one corner of the square and as everybody was leaving the question arose among us “How many people were here today?”  Since the police had no idea it was left to us to decide between us – and on the news that evening and in all the papers the next day the figure was at least consistent – but it could have been a few thousand out either way.

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