Good last point: What is the difference between contemplated solutions to difficult problems and actual behavior [Hot Type, March 4]? Too bad there wasn’t a good answer.

If the test tells us something valid, then we have to accept the fact that journalists are incompetent. Either they lie or they screw up. Whichever it is, they do it a lot. And this article tells us they don’t make stuff up, don’t out spies or witnesses in mob trials, don’t frame stories to make the liberals’ villains look bad (military, conservatives, conservative Christians, Republicans) on purpose. It’s just an accident. Over and over and over.

So anyway, what is it about journalism that keeps people from trusting it, the P score notwithstanding?

Could it be they get it wrong so often that the rest of us think they can’t be doing it because they’re stupid, because nobody’s that stupid? That leaves intent. Besides, they tell us how smart they are. Every chance they get.

PBS and others have chin pullers with journalists thinking deep thoughts about this question. The answer is always the same. The general public suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome.

If journalism reflected journalists, there would be, as a minor matter, far more and more prominent corrections. Corrections would not take the form of a row back.

Reporters who misquote public figures by 180 degrees and make them look bad should be docked the cost of MAJOR corrections. Which, naturally, would be as prominently displayed as was the original article.

Nonpublic figures who are made to look bad by incompetence would get a FULL apology, a large and detailed story about how the mistake was made, and a full explanation of how they really aren’t that bad. And the time of the public flogging of the reporter in question would be posted. Or if nobody has the stomach for that, we’d assign a rookie reporter to do a bio of the offending “journalist” which would run in the latter’s hometown without editing.

They wouldn’t make stuff up to throw elections.

Little things like that.

Anybody get Rather’s P score?

This article, while interesting, is meaningless. Without major changes in behavior, journalism is going to continue to operate without the trust of a good portion of the public. They’ve earned it fair and square.

Richard A. Aubrey

Flushing, Michigan