Monday, September 16, 2013

Creating accoutable news in a timely manner

Morgan Sigrist

As a journalist, social media enthusiast and lover of technology, when did the line become blurred with pushing timely news and producing ethical news? We are all well aware of the pressure of making deadlines and being the first to report breaking news, but the problem arises of taking the time to thoroughly check every fact.


In this profession we are held accountable for not only correctly reporting the news, but also holding others accountable for their actions. All that we have in this business of seeking the truth is our name, our name so closely associated with our ability to create credible words and the deciding factor if someone will read our article. The public will often choose to tune into certain media outlets based on their credibility and accountability for reporting the truth.

Perhaps the biggest media mishap that comes to mind would be the reporting on the death of Osama bin Laden. As news syndications rushed to be the first to report the death of Osama bin Laden, mistakes were flagrant as newscasters reported that President Obama was dead. For example, Fox News 40 in California reported over the television screen that “Obama bin Laden” was dead. Such a major mistake like this caused the station distrust within their community as being a credible news source. Though the news station issued an apology for their mistake, many were still left wondering if the typo was a mistake or a blatant error due to their political inclinations.

An interesting development with the use of social media and journalism is the availability for the public to be more involved in the news that is reported. Social media users are able to leave comments, ideas and often criticisms about articles; creating this dialogue between the public and media. The problem within this dialogue is for journalists to remain unbiased by the public opinion and to report the facts.

Which brings me to my next point of accountability versus transparency. The two seem to constantly be at war with one another as journalists fight for distinction in reporting the truth. For me, I do not see the need for there to be a distinction between the two, but rather for the two ideas to flow freely together. In order for me to be an accountable journalist, I must also be transparent in my ability to collect and produce information for the public. The only problem that I can see arise with this would be protecting my source and their information. If we focus on reporting the news correctly and taking the time to check the facts, instead of being the first to report the news, there would be less of a need to constantly justify our actions and apologize to the public for our mistakes.

We as journalists mustn’t be hypocritical in holding others accountable for their words and actions, if we are unable to be accountable for our own words. As guardians and producers of the truth, accountability must be the golden ticket and there will less of a need for transparency as we build the public’s trust.

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