we have deflected a hacker attack!

I am amused and irritated by regular news reports lately that come in one of two flavors.
First, the articles about how information disclosure occurred at an organization and that X amount of people were notified, a hotline set up, and a web site created with answers to common questions that the possible victims may have. While all of this is good and detailed, rarely is there any discussion on two things I most want to know: How did the attack occur, and what assurances are there that the information on the system was all that was exposed? My guess is that these are cloudy questions with even cloudier answers…which troubles me.
Second, articles that state an organization thrwarted or repelled a hacker attack. Ok, how do you know there was a hacker attack? Who was it? What did you do to thwart it? Was there even an incident at all? I guess if I wanted to drum up my IT team, I could spread word that when Snort gave an alert about a sendmail.pl exploit attempt against my server (captured in IIS logs) that doesn’t even affect anything on my server nor would ever potentially affect it because we don’t run sendmail, I can go ahead and raise the flags and drop confetti because my team…hell…*I* saved the day and thwarted a hack attempt!
As a technical individual, I am quickly requiring details, or it didn’t happen. Screenshots or it didn’t happen!