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Fake news is old news, but a more sub­versive type of reporting deserves greater reproach: straight-up lazy jour­nalism.

In excuse for CNN’s mis­guided han­dling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s inves­ti­gation, the network’s Pres­ident Jeff Zucker this week defended lazy reporting: “We are not inves­ti­gators. We are jour­nalists, and our role is to report the facts as we know them, which is exactly what we did,” he told The New York Times.

If any­thing, “reporting facts as we know them” is careless. Lazy jour­nalists trust their sources, follow popular nar­ra­tives, and accept facts at face value without doubting them­selves or their data. Good reporters question even the facts.

CNN isn’t alone in lazy jour­nalism (nor is it wholly lazy; it actually has a team devoted to inves­ti­gation, making Zucker’s comment more of a shame). Every jour­nalist faces temp­ta­tions to slack off, and many — of all political, or apo­litical, stripes — give in. Dead­lines approach too fast for fact-checking. Sleep sounds better than a rewrite or another phone call. A story that fits the nar­rative sells better. Suc­cessful jour­nalists, glam­orized in this age of Twitter and tele­vision, easily grow over­con­fident.

And people eat it up.

Thus, we have not only an over­hyped Mueller report, but also the recent one-sided cov­erage of Cov­ington Catholic High School, the 2006 slinging of Duke lacrosse players’ rep­u­ta­tions, and the 2014 Rolling Stone debacle at the Uni­versity of Vir­ginia. And even less egre­gious examples: hastily posted online articles tagged with cor­rective editor’s notes, and aggre­gated news stories that don’t con­tribute infor­mation but merely march along with the pack.

In my own reporting, I’ve come to rue the articles I sub­mitted too soon, prone to mis­spelled names or other factual errors that could have been fixed with just a little more effort.

It’s a shame that lazy jour­nalism takes flight because it under­mines the hard-earned, thoughtful reporting that jour­nalists (even main­stream media jour­nalists!) produce. The most cel­e­brated moments of jour­nalism have involved true inves­ti­ga­tions — and some­times, they’ve tipped off law enforcement, not the other way around.

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s inves­ti­gation of the Watergate scandal took months of digging — and ren­dezvous in a parking garage — that prompted gov­ernment inves­ti­ga­tions and even­tually led to Nixon’s res­ig­nation. The Boston Globe’s uncov­ering of the extent of the Catholic Church’s clergy sex abuse likewise sparked wider inves­ti­gation and legal justice. Recently, the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News con­structed a database of Southern Baptist Church leaders con­victed of sexual assault.

Far from stealthy sleuthing adven­tures, most inves­tigative reporting involves Sisyphean tasks at an office desk: culling through data, reading legalese-ridden reports, filing Freedom of Infor­mation Act forms to little avail. None of these are glam­orous; none get posted online in an afternoon. But in jour­nalism, as in most things, glory doesn’t come without hard work, care, and probably working around a gov­ernment road­block.

To bolster media cred­i­bility, thorough and thoughtful jour­nalism — the ques­tioning, rea­soning, data-driven kind — deserves more encour­agement from editors and appre­ci­ation from con­sumers (whose clicks do play a role in the health of the media). Good jour­nalism doesn’t have to be Hol­lywood-worthy: Even a basic news report should involve “inves­tigative” aspects of fact checking and source ver­i­fying.

Lazy jour­nalism doesn’t just risk the journalist’s rep­u­tation; it puts sources and sub­jects and con­sumers in harm’s way as well. Jour­nalists can take pride in their role of truth-digging and sto­ry­telling only insofar as they work hard to do it right.