Journalists behaving badly, Part II (except in Tampa)

Dateline: Tue 15 May 2012

Did you know 85 percent of all college graduates have moved back home with mom and dad, thus earning the name "boomerang generation"?

Of course you absorbed this information if you're a hard-charging news consumer; the figure has been reported by Time, CNN, HuffPost, New York Post, NBC and many other media outlets as if it is gospel. But when it showed up in a recent political ad, PolitiFact dug in and got at the truth. The story of the real percentage -- 21 percent is accurate -- and the backstory was on NPR this morning.

First, a bit on PolitiFact -- check out the website:

It's a service provided by the Tampa Bay Times newspaper "in which reporters and editors from the Times and affiliated media outlets 'fact-check statements by members of Congress, the White House, lobbyists and interest groups...They publish original statements and their evaluations on the website, and assign each a 'Truth-O-Meter' rating. The ratings range from 'True' for completely accurate statements to 'Pants on Fire' (from the taunt 'Liar, liar, pants on fire') for outright lies." That's from Wiki.

Thank God, someone in journalism is doing something right.

NPR picked up on PolitiFact's digging into the 85 percent figure, Apparently the original source is some group that no longer exists. When PolitiFact contacted the former head of the group, he acknowledged he had no idea who came up with the 85 percent number.

NPR interviewed Kim Parker of the Pew Research Center to get at the truth. She cited Census data and other research to come up with 21 percent of people aged 25-34 who are college graduates are now living back at home.

As someone pointed out to me, 85 percent is a huge figure, and anytime you have 85 percent of anything, you might want to question how accurate or truthful that could be. But obviously, none of our esteemed mainstream news sources already cited did so, with the exception of The Tampa Times' sterling little enterprise. With thanks to NPR for reporting honestly on that story and exposing the falsehood.

Now to bookmark politifact.


Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Oh my Lord! I have a 20-year-old still living at home. Does this mean I am doomed to have to look into The Den of Horror (otherwise known as his bedroom) for 14 more years!!!?????

2012-05-15 12:12:11

varangianguard [unverified] said:

You mean they eventually leave?!?

2012-05-16 05:04:41

Jason [unverified] said:

I lived at home for 6 months after school. That doesn't mean I didn't have a job.

Quite the contrary, it was a very helpful transition period. Having a few stored up paychecks under my belt served me well.

2012-05-16 09:45:59

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