Research and Accuracy Issues
It is common for Journalists to make mistakes when creating news stories, especially in today’s fast moving generation. Errors happen whether in print, online, or live broadcast and there is a proper protocol in addressing these errors. After reading the article “Why Journalists Make Mistakes & What We Can Do About Them” I realize that the worst thing a journalist can do is ignore an error or address an error inappropriately. The best practices journalists can engage in to avoid errors are to fact check and research thoroughly before printing a story. It is very common for a journalist to put out information as it becomes available (even more so before information becomes available) and this is the main reason errors occur. To handle an error after it has occurred in any mode of communication in the news is for the journalist to simply humble themselves, offer an apology along with the factual information that was omitted or presented in error. This provides the public with the factual information while building trust.
It is the journalist’s duty to take more care in reporting stories even with deadlines and speedy competition. Consistently editing and updating stories can compromise the accuracy and integrity of a journalist as well as an entire news outlet. This can cause mistrust between the journalist and the public. There are distinct differences between errors made due to the lack of factual information and careless mistakes made because of speedy priorities. The ability to continually update news stories is changing the way journalist approach writing in that journalist become careless and this is made evident through careless reports an unaddressed errors. The ability to consistently correct news stories has taken away any accountability for error. If there is no ownership of error because of the convenience of updating, then this harshly changes the approach in writing.
We live in a generation where social media can twist a story or quickly spread information that does not contain facts and omits truths. The way information is quickly spread through social media has affected journalism challenging the journalist in which they should strive even hard to uphold journalistic integrity instead of contributing to practices other than what is expected.
The difference between an ordinary person reporting the news and a journalist is journalistic care according to the “9 Principles of Journalism”. According to these principles, the first principle of Journalism states that “a journalist’s first obligation should be the truth.” (Pew Research Center) As error corrections are a direct reflection of speed, it is very much possible for a journalist to adhere to the 9 principles while working on a deadline.
The emergence of technology and resources has directly affected accuracy and approaches to research. For example, the internet has proven to be in favor of the public more than ever as journalists are challenged every day to provide factual information or receive public backlash. The use of social media and the speed of news dissemination have also impacted journalism. Journalists have become more concerned about the speed in which they can inform the public rather than the accuracy of the information being presented. As a result these errors are exposed quickly than in times past.
The public basically shares in the same resources to fact check and research current events that journalist have and this contrast greatly from the way news reporting occurred in the 1980s and prior. In generations past, the public mainly relied on news outlets that they felt could be trusted and mainly in forms of print. People found information out by word of mouth but did not possess all of the tools to independently research facts that we have today. Granted there were ways to fact check but it wasn’t an idea so accessible and widespread like the tools provided for researching information today. For example, the reports on the Martin Luther King Jr assassination in 1968 omitted important information in the conviction of James Ray. It wasn’t until almost 31 years later in 1999 that the omitted facts on the conspiracy and assassination of MLK were presented to the public in which multiple people including “government agencies” were indeed held accountable for the assassination. (The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) In the 1960-1970s there were limited resources to challenge this faulty report that was initially presented to the public; this is a completely contrast in how news is reported and accepted today. The use of social media tools for research contrast in how news reports occurred in previous generation. There would have been many questioning the details on the assassination and with widespread information, the omitted details would have come to light sooner than later. More people are accessing information and this pressures reporters and journalist to provide more accuracy in research and detail.
As mistakes occur there are many ways in which a Journalist can approach these errors for correction. Whether information is presented falsely or if information is omitted there is a proper protocol in addressing each error. As time moves forward many new advances in technology, including the internet has helped expose errors. With the use of social media the public has become more engage and interactive in the news than ever before. This is not a negative thing. As the Journalist upholds the principles of journalism, approaches news stories with care and integrity, and humbly admits fault when error occur, this creates trust between the public and the journalist and also improves accuracy issues.
The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
9 Principles of Journalism
Pew Research Center http://www.journalism.org/resources/principles-of-journalism/