prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Archive for October, 2009

One more about Accuracy…for now

Posted by prof e on October 26, 2009

apOkay, I don’t want to beat a dead horse or overstay my time on this particular soapbox, but here’s one more article (this one from the AP) that raises serious concerns about recent misfires in major media coverage. The following quote, from the end of the linked article, captures the essence of the change that is sweeping the news business…pushed largely by the 24-hour news cycle of cable TV and the minute-by-minute updating possible on the web.

Nowhere was the new landscape more vividly illustrated than this month when Nick Denton, chief of the irreverent Web site, issued a memo scolding his staff for a few cases “where we’ve thought WAY too much before publishing” a story.

Get something out fast with what we know, Denton wrote. We can always update.

“At some media organizations, you might get rapped for running a premature story,” he wrote. “At Gawker Media, you’ll lose way more points for being scooped on a story you had in your hands.”


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Balloon Boy Makes My Point

Posted by prof e on October 21, 2009

hoaxWhen I posted my blog entry about accuracy in the media last week, it was the day before the Balloon Boy story broke. Since then we’ve been served a non-stop drama that started with a young child at risk, progressed to a possible media hoax, and reached a crescendo with apparent criminal charges filed against parents Richard and  Mayumi Heene. The media circus that gave birth to the spectacle is now feeding off of the dead carcass and will continue to do so until all that remains are bleached bones. Would-be actors who craved instant fame got infamy, which they will now try to peddle to unscrupulous reality show producers and tabloid publishers. There’s even an online video game based on the whole sordid affair. The one bright spot in all of this, if there is one, is that Colorado law prevents criminals from profiting from their criminal actions. Forgive me if I come across as harsh and skeptical…but perhaps a healthy dose of skepticism was what was needed last Friday.

Posted in journalism, media effects, media industry, regulation | 5 Comments »

Accuracy of News Media

Posted by prof e on October 15, 2009

One of the most sacred tenets of journalism is under fire. Recent surveys point to disturbing trends with regard to perceived accuracy and demand for accuracy from our news media.

According to recent findings by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, the public’s assessment of the accuracy of news is at its lowest level in more than two decades. Less than 30% of Americans surveyed believe that news organizations generally get the facts straight, while 63% say that news stories are often inaccurate. That is a dramatic reversal from 1985 when 55% said news stories were accurate while 34% said they were inaccurate.

What may be more disturbing is the view, held by some, that consumers of web news prefer speed over accuracy.  According to consultants to The Columbus Dispatch, readers prefer getting the information sooner rather than later, even if it means that there is a greater chance that the information is inaccurate. These ideas–that readers want to be “part of the reporting process” and “over time, the truth will come out”–are at odd with one of the sacred cows of journalism.  The mantra has been repeated over and over…you’ve got to get it fast, but you’ve got to get it right. Does that mean that you wait to publish until you’re 99.9% sure of the accuracy of your story? That may depend on whether you want to be known for scoops or for consistently reliable information. If you’re an old-school journalist it may be that your commitment to accuracy is what sets you apart from the bloggers, citizen journalists, and advocates who are willing to take more risks.

Posted in interactive media, journalism, new media, research, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »