Bad journalism

Consider the following two quotes from this BusinessWeek article by Susan Berfield. From the first paragraph:

He has Asperger’s syndrome,

On the second page:

Cohen never sought a formal diagnosis

If it’s not clear why this is bad journalism, replace “Asperger’s” with schizophrenia, or Bipolar disorder or with any other psychological or even any physical condition. How can the author of a story about a person living with something like Asperger’s, where the journalist admits that that person has never been diagnosed, be trusted? What other key details in this story come from single sources and make it into print unchallenged and unverified? How many other stories in BusinessWeek suffer from the same sloppy reporting?

When I worked on the bi-weekly underground student newspaper at UC Santa Cruz, our editors and faculty advisors in the journalism department would have flayed us alive for committing such an oversight.

Full disclosure: I also used to work for Bram at BitTorrent, but, unlike Susan Berfield and the BusinessWeek editors, I don’t consider myself qualified to comment on any medical diagnoses.