25 Jun 2008 8:00 am   //   Filed under: In the news

The gut check

Sometimes a news story doesn’t pass the gut check. That means, when you weigh your own life experience, the story in question is believable only in the face of overwhelming evidence. Journalists need to work extra hard on such stories. Some don’t.

Time.com’s “pregnancy pact” story is one such case. A group of Massachusetts high school girls making a pact to get pregnant together? Didn’t smell right. Especially since none of the girls was on record saying so. That didn’t stop every TV news program in the country, and many elsewhere, from picking it up. Now a few new facts confirm the gut-check: The pact probably existed only in the imagination of the school principal.

Elsewhere, how about the Amazonian tribe that had never been contacted by outsiders? Not so much. Gut check wins again.

What do you think explains the five human feet that washed up on the beach in British Columbia? Does not pass the gut check, but seems true. Police are on the record saying the feet are real, though a sixth foot was a hoax. I wonder how this one will play out.

Related: Jack Shafer of Slate is a master of knocking these things down.