Can we get the facts straight in a 24-hour news cycle?
The recent communications that ensued after Hurricane Katrina, during Hurricane Rita and the more recent mining tragedy show that news casters can and will go on the record with mis-information.
Ike Pigott covers this topic in his post “The Blame Game.”
What I couldn’t do was monitor everything that was going out. And sure enough, when a reporter (more likely a disc jockey) went crazy with imaginary information, it took me a while to find out about it. And it will drive you crazy, doing hours of interviews explaining why you can’t accept in-kind donations, only to find out a radio station is telling people what items to bring to your shelters.
John Wagner add his voice to the topic:
I think we’ll see more situations like the one in West Virginia in the future, rather than fewer.
The ability to communicate quickly is so prevalent today — with cell phones, IMs, text messaging, video, etc. And the pressure is on the media to respond quickly and stay ahead of the competition.
It was much easier to control information back in the day. Now, anyone on the scene with a decent cell phone can spread rumors faster than any PR person can close them down.
I recently gave an interview where I corrected a newspaper reporter’s question — i.e., she was using the wrong terminology in the question asked. I went over this twice with her before I even anwered the question. When the story ran, not only did the reporter use the wrong terms, she didn’t use any of the info I gave her. Not one quote, bit, or attribution. And her assertions were wrong.
I think that some of the problem is that there’s an added time element to current news. But, in addition, I think we’ve stopped holding journalists to the accuracy standard. Twenty, ten, even five years ago, these mistakes would have cost someone his or her job. Now we just shrug it off.
And this makes my job much harder. If it’s my job to get out the truth… how am I supposed to do that if journalists can now ignore it?