Mistakes, False News, & Errors

What are your thoughts on today’s media? Are we the public demanding information so instantaneously that news agencies are overlooking accuracy for being the first to break the story? Does this in any way affect a journalist’s ethics?

There are four main principles that a journalist must abide according to The Society of Professional Journalist:

The Society of Professional Journalist (SPJ) Code of Ethics

  1. Seek Truth and Report It
  2. Minimize Harm
  3. Act Independently
  4. Be Accountable and Transparent

I do believe the trend of “report now, apologize later” violates the SPJ’s Code of Ethics. The purpose of news media is to provide the public with accurate information regarding what is going on in the world around us. If the information being put forth is inaccurate then the reliability of the news diminishes. Over time, nothing presented can be taken seriously. All news essentially becomes like a tabloid. The public knows and understands the stories are sensationalized.

How can the news media stay true to the first code, “seek truth and report it” if they are reporting then seeking?

As we, the public, are the ones to which this information is being presented, we should expect and demand accuracy. The news media does not deserve blind faith. Their stories should be built on solid evidence and facts.

We are all human, so mistakes will be made. As stated in the SPJ Code of Ethics, “admit mistakes in full detail and correct them promptly.” This is then expanded upon Steve Buttry’s blog, “corrections should clearly and specifically say what was wrong.”

Is anyone to blame for this trend? Well, it is a question of supply and demand. The news media gives the public what it wants. With information being available instantly at the click of a button or slide of a finger, it has become an expected norm to have it and have it now. I believe this has lead the news media to adapt to this new way of thinking, at the expense of the truth.

If you are ever reading a breaking news story, take a moment to think about the information being presented. I would say wait an hour or two and check other news sources. Make sure that you take the information with a grain of salt. Until the information can be verified by the proper authorities, I would hold off on jumping on the news bandwagon and forwarding that story to all of your Facebook friends.

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