20210419 RegTech: Knowledge, Belief and Suspicion and the trap of Wilful Blindness.

There are many areas of life where we act on knowledge, belief and suspicion.

There are many jobs that depend upon the ability to differentiate between them and to give appropriate weight to them.

For example, if we were to ask those working in the media whether they are journalists or reporters, many would say they are journalists but, in truth, many are reporters that is to say that they report what they see or hear or what another person tells them what that other person has seen or heard. Or they republish, perhaps with minor style changes, press releases.

Reporting: Mrs Jane Smith died yesterday when she was hit by a bus in Market Street.

Journalism: Mrs Jane Smith, 41, was killed yesterday when she ran in front of a bus in Market Street. Passers-by said that Mrs Smith’s pet miniature poodle had jumped out of the bag she was being carried in and ran into the road. Mrs Smith and her dog were well known to both shoppers and market traders. She lived nearby and went to the market daily, Mr Peter Potatohead, a greengrocer, told this newspaper. Several passengers on the bus were injured when the driver, Mr Gordon Scott braked hard to try to avoid hitting Mrs Smith. Mr Scott, 54, is a veteran of more than 30 years driving City buses. ″I will be retiring soon and I have never had any serious accident until today. It is very upsetting but there was nothing I could do as she ran out just feet in front of my bus.″ A police spokesman said ″we have reviewed the facts of the accident and have taken witness statements. It is obvious that the driver of the vehicle did everything he could to avoid hitting the victim and it is clear that the victim ran into the road with other things on her mind and simply did not think about, see or hear the bus. We are not pursuing any other lines of inquiry.″

Both versions contain facts. But there is also opinion.

The newspaper will, or should, check the facts.

Yet, when a newspaper receives a press release, if it chooses to publish it, it will review it for libel or criminal purpose and perhaps for house style (spellings, certain phrases, etc.) but it will not be checked for the accuracy of fact. This is because the newspaper ″reports″ the press release. It does not write about it in the sense of journalism.