Heard news? Ask: How do you know?

By · Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

not teaching,
still THINKING …

When Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, along with seven others, died in a helicopter crash Sunday, Jan. 26, a lot of “details” were shared — some overheard in casual conversations.

For example:

All of these details raised the question: How do they know?

Some 13 days after the crash, The New York Times put that question to rest by putting those details in perspective.

Its piece was published Feb. 8 under the headline, ‘Helicopter Went Down, Flames Seen’: Kobe Bryant’s Last Flight. It describes Our Lady Queen of Angels, “the Catholic church that the Bryants attended.”

The church is a beige, modern building, with a large patio and fountain in front. Inside, two thin speakers hang from the ceiling to project the priest’s words to the back part of the church, where Bryant sometimes sat, trying to blend in.

The piece shares a glimpse of Bryant’s visit to the church the morning of the crash.

Sunday’s first Mass was at 7 a.m., but Bryant had come and gone by then. As other parishioners began to arrive, a priest bumped into Bryant on his way out. The men chatted briefly, shook hands, and the priest noted the drop of holy water on Bryant’s forehead. He had been praying, he thought.

The question, “How do you know?” is a staple for journalists. When asked, it can lead to a simple answer or to more questions. But, ultimately, the hope is that the question leads to verified information that anyone would feel comfortable sharing.

(These two profs are no longer teaching at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, but we are still thinking.)

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