Getting It Right

This blog post is a little different.  I want to use this space to address some questions posed by our listeners.  A homicide was reported last night in the small community of Clymer and there still aren’t a lot of details on what happened.  As is the case every time there’s a lack of information, the vacuum is filled with rumors.  So, rumors were rampant across Clymer last night.  The question was, why couldn’t we report what everyone else already knew?  Well, because we didn’t know it.  My rule, which I hold on tight to in most circumstances, is that in these situations 100 percent reliable information only comes from the police.  So last night, I waited for police to release the name of the victim and I went another route, getting details on the incident from the chief deputy coroner.  Now, no legitimate news organization will report rumors as fact.  Doing so would just serve to amplify the game of telephone that is played after every incident like this.

Some organizations are even abolishing the term “breaking news.”  The thought is that they would rather be second to a story and get it right, than be first, and get it wrong.  We’ve seen a lot of that lately, especially after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and the Boston Marathon bombing.  It’s not such a bad idea…..no one ever understood what the term “breaking news” meant anyway.

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3 thoughts on “Getting It Right

  1. Good post Nick. I love when it’s breaking news when the story concluded hours prior. I really thing that many news organizations need to breathe and not be the first, but be the correct station, outlet, etc. More and more mistakes are being made and those mistakes can cost someone their livelihoods if not their lives.

    • I totally agree. Breaking news as a phrase needs to go away completely. As I watched the Kennedy exhibit at the Newseum last week, I noticed that Cronkite didn’t go with the immediate reports that Kennedy had died from people at the hospital…he waited for the official word. That’s important.

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