Case Study One

23 Jan

Reading Eagle Snatches Dog and learning about how the article isn’t based on facts makes me consider how sometimes journalists seem to be missing the point. Oftentimes, journalists are more interested in getting a good story first than getting the facts right.

In the eagle story, there were many clues that should have tipped off the reporter that the article might not be completely factual. Only one of the sources, the gas station attendant, was named. Journalists should be wary of stories where only one source is identified. Not only was the sourcing weak, but the details were missing too. There were no names of the victims, the dog’s wasn’t accurately described and the gas station wasn’t identified.

Most importantly, the facts should have been checked more thoroughly. How common is this kind of occurrence? Is it even possible for an eagle to lift this kind of weight? The desire of the news organization to print a good story and print it before everyone else got in the way of running accurate and true news.

Another recent example of this happened Saturday night when CBS prematurely reported Penn State’s Joe Paterno dead. Though Paterno was sick in the hospital and he requested friends and family come say their final goodbyes, he was still alive. His family had to come out and deny the rumors that he had passed away. Thanks to journalists at CBS, a tough time for a family was made even more unnecessarily difficult.

Reporters heard rumors and failed to check their facts before spreading the story. Our desire to break every story first has overcome our basic duty to bring the readers accurate news. Twitter hasn’t helped this problem either. Now that so many journalists are connected instantly to all their readers, all they have to do is hit one button on a whim and millions of people, including other news organizations, see it and believe it to be true. Social networking sites have made it more important for journalists to be absolutely sure their information is accurate and their sources are trustworthy.  Twitter is especially guilty of spreading false news, most notably, famous people’s deaths.

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