Quote of the Day: “Viral” Is Not the Same Thing as “True”

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

From an unnamed colleague of Dave Weigel:

“Too good to check” used to be a warning to newspaper editors not to jump on bullshit stories. Now it’s a business model.

If you didn’t follow the great Elan Gale Twitter hoax over the weekend, click the link for more. Weigel’s point is that just because something “goes viral” on social media is no excuse for publishing a story about it without bothering to perform even basic fact checking. Sure, that would mean fewer dumb pieces of clickbait and thus fewer clicks, but if getting lots of hits is now an all-purpose excuse to shrug your shoulders when something turns out not to be true, maybe the sites that buy into this business model should start calling themselves something other than news outlets.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend