What should journalists, news organisations, and viewers do when false stories are told?
What action should journalists and the outlets that employ them take when journalists tell incorrect or faulty stories? Like in the recent case of NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, who falsely recounted a story about reporting from Iraq in 2003. How should institutions and journalists react when this kind of thing occurs? Let's avoid deciding BW's future for him in our discussion.
They should first admit their mistake and correct it right away. (There is nothing to be ashamed of, everyone makes mistake. It’s the arrogant attitude that angers people.) And then, apologize heartily. Most people are very forgiving. Last, but not the least, donate a large amount of money to charity. And remember, never make the same mistake twice, learn from the lesson, stay low key. It’s not the smart way to get publicity.
Faulty stories are the norm...why would they do anything about it?
Ah! Playing devil's advocate. Stories that are not well researched are actually the norm.
"Not well researched" is one part of being faulty.
I disagree, Robert. There's an expectation in the industry that things be done right. It's not always the best stories, in fact it's often not. But getting something wrong is a reporter's worst nightmare.
It is a good thing JPac1 that it should be a reporter's worse nightmare. But if the source is wrong, maybe on purpose, then the report will be totally wrong unless other sources are involved. Hence research.
Rod, that's why more than one source is always needed, and cross-referencing information is a must. Journalism basics. When reporters don't follow those simple guidelines, it's always sad.
I agree JPac1. But shrinking funds and time limitations to get a story in can result in less and less cross-referencing. And yes it is sad.
The car accident that claims the life of a 3-year-old girl Allison Liao was misrepresented by the media initially. The truth was uncovered a year later when a video footage indicates the driver of a SUV was at fault, not the dead little girl, sad.
Research is one answer. Often false or misleading stories get out because there is a hidden agenda and news agencies don't always have the resources to uncover all the truth. Also on television there is too often a five minute or less window to get the story out there. Then the news is supposed to move on to the next story. This is fine when it comes to a cute puppy tale originally reported on facebook but not always so fine when the story is much more complex. Occasionally I get up really early in the morning for work, around four, and Good Morning America is on tele. They are definitely not geared for hard, penetrating news. The window for them is about two minutes at the most.
Exposing a false story with apologies is a daunting task and further revealing how it got out to the public even more so. There is a difference too between what should be done and what will be done. Apologies for misleading the public do get out but they also get buried. The internet, however, can make the burial of an apology more difficult so there is that. Gone are the days when an apology makes it to the back pages and are seen by very few people. Even so the reasons why this happened are explored often at the risk of the news organization's reputation. The need for commercial sponsorship can also enter the mix. If the 'mistake' happened due to the needs of covering up for a manufacturer then that is another can of very dubious worms. And that had happened in the USA as well as elsewhere.
It isn't always a case of false reporting but misleading reportage. Take the Cronulla riot that occurred in NSW, Australia. SBS and ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) would have the world believe that suddenly there was this rise of anti-Muslim feeling on these beaches. The truth is that the riot that did happen was the result of months of Muslim Youth picking on young women in summer. What were the women doing? They were simply wearing bikinis. Some of these women were as young as eleven and were treated to rude remarks about their bodies. A lot of people at Cronulla and in adjoining suburbs were outraged but also feeling helpless to act. Of course today with television it is politically correct to skip over the reasons behind the riot and just show the riot. In that way the Muslims who created the necessary animosity need not feel ashamed of themselves. Leaving details out because of hidden agendas such as political correctness can in fact be worse than lies.
The time constraints on stories are a problem, often making it very hard to tell a story. But viewers simply won't stay interested in a story if it goes on longer than a couple minutes. Unless, of course, we're talking documentary reporting.
I know I get that. To some extent I blame M television. Documentary reporting is great. Unfortunately really dumb reality shows have taken over the spots that should go to it.
Nowadays, what we see and hear on the news may not be the whole truth.Intentionally or not, People lie in public all the time, reporters, politicians, judges, lawyers,etc. We the viewers have to decide what's real, and not go by what they tell us.
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