I think the issue is journalism vs scientific reasearch. In journalism, you do not have the luxury of spending huge quantities of time developing your methadology and validating your statistics; and it is understood that journalism is much more by-the-gut than science.
One of the major jobs of journalism is to help your reader draw connections and get context for current issues. As long as readers get a diversity of sources, and views are expressed in rough proportion to how they are help by people in the field, then I think journalism is doing its job.
Journalists have a responsibility towards facts that is just as strong as a scientist's responsibility towards facts. The major difference is that journalists are not necessarily expected to discover facts, but report on them, which greatly shifts their scope of attention.
Helping readers draw connections and get context is valuable, but only if it's done within the facts. A journalist or a publication that reports something that is factually wrong has to loose credibility.
Reporting something as fact when it is merely speculation is a milder form of reporting something that's factually wrong, but it's almost as deserving of our criticism.