Mistakes in Journalism

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Everyone makes mistakes. Even journalists.

These mistakes can come in a variety of places: spelling errors, grammar mistakes, false quotes, or even false information.
One huge example of this that comes to mind is when NPR mistakenly reported that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was dead after receiving a shot to the head.
As is talked about in this article, there are many ways in which mistakes such as these can actually be avoided.
1.Be sure of your source. This is essential. If you just choose a random person off the street, your information may be less reliable than say picking multiple people off the street or using a source you know is trustworthy. Also with this, make sure that your source would have access to the information they are claiming is true.
2. Make sure they have evidence. Otherwise, it could all just be speculation or rumor. Having concrete evidence increases the reliability of a source and the information you are receiving.
3. Don't assume. As we were always taught, it makes "an ass out of u and me". Just because something appears a certain way doesn't mean that is always the case, as like what happened with Giffords.
4. Don't hop the bandwagon. Don't simply report something that someone else has reported, even if it is big news, unless you have actual confirmation from trusted and informed sources. Doing this could have prevented the rapid spread of the false news that Giffords had died.
For more tips be sure to check out the article mentioned above or feel free to comment if you have any questions.
Photo credit: via Creative Commons


Morgan Abel March 30, 2011 at 11:16 AM  

I think this is really important to keep in mind when writing stories. When you make a mistake, it doesn't just hurt your reputation, but it spreads false information which could potentially hurt the people involved in your story.

April Sigmund March 30, 2011 at 11:26 AM  

These tips are very important for journalists. While mistakes can be harmless, such as misspelling a name, in the case of Gabrielle Giffords the mistakes made were far from harmless. This case should have been a good wake up call for journalists when it comes to checking facts.

Amanda Hintgen March 30, 2011 at 12:05 PM  

These tips are really helpful. It is important to make sure your source is reliable, it is not enough just to have a source.

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