Interesting and “thoughtful piece”:http://www.wordyard.com/2006/09/12/data-and-stories/ from Scott Rosenberg about the difference between facts and stories. He talks about the way in which newspapers need to supply both and will always rely on humans for stories even though the access to facts can be greatly improved by computers.
On the other hand, stories, however credible, need facts. They need facts especially when they seem credible. See Martin Newland’s %(loony)<mailscience>% regurgitation (not on line) %(loony)</mailscience>% of a [“recent American book”:http://www.writely.com/Doc.aspx?id=ajcm4hmcdchf_4frcn7t] which purports to show that there are huge, inborn differences between male an female human brains. Now, almost every one of the factual claims in this book “has been shredded”:http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003565.html in a recent series of Language Log posts; if no one else does so, I should in turn regurgitate them for the _Guardian._
The thread that binds these two of course is that there is one thing that newspapers cannot hope uniquely to supply, and that’s opinion.