Journalists not Checking Facts

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

College student Shane Fitzgerald used the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia in an experiment to show just how dependent journalists are on the internet as their source. Fitzgerald posted a fake quote on Wikipedia supposedly said by Maurice Jarre, a French composer who had recently passed away. After posting the quote, Fitzgerald was surprised to find that not only had various blogs and websites used the quote, but mainstream high- end newspapers as well included it in their versions of the composer’s obituary.
It surprised me that so much of the media depended on such an unreliable source. While I understood how low key bloggers could made the mistake, I would have thought the more upscale and bigger newspapers would not be able to afford making the same one. These papers affect many more people and it should be important for them to get their readers accurate and dependable news. Situations like this may cause them to lose readers and promote the image of their newspaper as being unreliable. While, like in this case, the mistake may not have been very important to many people, I believe a newspapers' reputation is still hurt because in the end it shows their carelessness and laziness when it comes to checking the facts. I think this experiment is a good wake up call to journalists out there in regard to checking facts. It also raises public awareness on being able to identify which source "got it right."

Photo Credit: Britannica via Creative Commons

3 comments:

Erin Gerken January 26, 2011 at 11:05 AM  

Things like this are the main reason that teachers don't want students to use Wikipedia as a source for research papers. As this student demonstrated, anyone can go in and change information. There is no one who monitors this, because it is supposed to be a source for and by the people. I think it is sad that so many people rely on Wikipedia as their main tool, especially journalists who could undoubtely find more accurate sources.

Kelsey Hagelberg February 1, 2011 at 6:51 AM  

It is rather funny how many individuals think wikipedia is credible. I think wikipedia could be beneficial if we knew all the facts were correct. By hearing different opinions about one similiar subject, individuals can learn many things about a certain topic. The only thing is you don't know if the source is one that you can trust or not. I don't believe wikipedia should be used by anyone who is attempting to write a research paper, or just to gain background knowledge about something.

Tess Myer February 1, 2011 at 12:28 PM  

It is extremely important to check facts that are heard from sources. This is something that could make or break you as a journalist. If you can't trust your source, then don't post the information given to you from the source. Facts are key, and if you are publishing false facts then your writing will be seen as a joke.

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