Posted by Rachel Ward
The coverage of the events surrounding the Boston Marathon bombing created a
nightmare for journalists. CNN reported that a “dark-skinned male” had been arrested, when no such arrest had been made. Fox also reported that an arrest had been made. The FBI had to set the two outlets straight — publicly. While it is the network’s responsibility to fact check, these kind of mishaps are embarrassing for ALL journalists and they discredit the entire profession.
“Breaking news, haven’t you heard, is broken,” writes Jeff Jarvis, the blogger behind Buzz Machine. Since we can’t change the past, or control how specific networks portray us, Jarvis thinks it’s time we learn from their mistakes.
Here are his tips:
- Today’s technology allows a constant flow of information that isn’t fact-checked etc. Which can be bad (holler New York Post), or can add knowledge, like witness’s photos.
- Telling the world what you don’t know is just as important as telling it what you do. This allows the public to tell us what they know.
- Police scanners are people on microphones. Information from scanners is not fact.
- Do not take photos of random men with backpacks and put the photo next to text that implies they were part of the bombing (once again, New York Post).
- Always say how you know what you know. If you are going to report from police scanners you have to say you are doing so and explain that what you obtained is not for sure.
Read more of Jarvis’ tips here.
What do you think is more important accuracy or speedy turn around? Does it depend on the situation? If so, which situations require which method?