The perfect storm for inaccuracy

Not a day goes by without some form of the following exchange taking place between two newsroom employees “When do you need it?” “Ten minutes ago!”

We live in an age where timing is everything. News is constantly changing and people want to be constantly updated. With average bystanders tweeting real time updates faster than reporters can go live, it is no wonder that publications like the St Louis Post-Dispatch are focusing heavily on their web department. An editor for the Post-Dispatch Arnie Robbins says, “In the world we live in now, readers expect immediacy, and we have to deliver. But we also have to be careful.”

After taking ethic’s classes and interning in newsrooms it is clear to me that being careful is becoming much easier said than done. With deadlines and pressure of immediacy alone it is no wonder errors are slipping into articles here and there. Add in the removal of positions of editors and the work load that is placed on those who survived the cuts, and you have the perfect storm, so to speak.

The Jason Blair scandal is infamous in newsrooms and households across the world- but after looking at the situation this past semester, I realized just how easy it must have been to let a detail slip here and there, or to cut a quote for timing purposes. I see how the situation can snowball, especially with less people in the “assembly line” to check facts. I feel that it is no ones responsibility but their own to first, follow some code of ethics and to check, then double check their stories. But I also understand how in a rush minor errors such as swapping left and right creep in.

I can honestly say I am terrified for the future of this profession, especially with the pressure to post things to the web immediately grows. Arielle Emmett puts it best in an article where she asks if Joseph Pulitzers motto of “Accuracy accuracy accuracy” survive the perfect storm that is deadlines and budget “Cuts cuts cuts.” Personally, I feel it is just a matter of time until the next “Jason Blair” unfolds.


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