Media Errors

I’ve added the new-to-me weblog Regret The Error to my daily websurf. It’s a collection of links to errata corrections in a number of major US newspapers, but it’s the accompanying commentary that is particularly good.
Reading through the recent entries, there’s a fair bit of discussion of how much news sources rely on each other to be accurate, so that an error in one publication can spread throughout them all without much background checking being done. Obviously, the misreporting about the recent mining accident is a tragic example of this.
What I particularly like about the site is the way it discusses both media errors and plagiarism in the media. While not all instances of “facts” being copied from one article to the next are plagiarism, in a lot of cases it is. It is definitely interesting to learn where those lines are in journalism. I’ve read news stories that have quoted individuals that I knew had not actually spoken to the reporter writing the story, because I had seen the same word-for-word quote elsewhere in the media. This, to me, crosses the line from sharing a fact to using the work someone else did to collect and select the best quote to support a particular piece of writing. I’m curious what a journalist would say about that practice.

5 thoughts on “Media Errors

  1. When I worked in various editing positions at a small daily newspaper for more than a decade, the managing editor would sometimes force us to put in our paper – right on deadline – a couple of paragraphs of paraphrased work from another paper. This was only if we were right on deadline, and we couldn’t get the info verified immediately. It was always written in the most generic terms, and direct quotes were never used/stolen.
    I was never comfortable even “borrowing” some paraphrased work. BUT competition can be fierce, in areas where people still do have choices among newspapers. People aren’t reading anymore, unless it is on the Internet. Newspaper subscription numbers are falling, and falling. Even the venerable New York Times last year laid off hundreds of news professionals. Not enough people are reading the country’s paper of record anymore. These are bad times.
    I think it is bad practice to borrow info from other newspapers. That particular form of media cannot afford the blow to its credibility if “caught” spreading wrong information. They don’t need anything to erode the public confidence. At least those members of the public who still think newspapers are relevant to their lives, who think it is important to know what is going on around your corner, not just around the world.
    Newspapers need to be concerned with the truth. Even if they have to wait a day or two to publish it.

  2. I’m glad that you shared this – I agree that with the decreased interest in newspapers, it is more important to adhere to a high standard of accuracy. One of the things that I really like about the website I linked is that it recognizes that mistakes will happen, but discusses the right versus the wrong way to respond to those mistakes.

    1. Regarding the whole NCAA Violations matter, I truly think that the NCAA needs to either be more efficient – and thereby more of a martinet – or become more realistic in their evaluations. While I have absolutely no use for the likes of &#;ph08Cal-t2e-Li2”, this current Bledsoe thingy is a waste of time, money, and newspaper ink … The NCAA ought to simply follow the olde adage of “Follow the Money” !!! No $$$, no violation … By $$$ I mean the disbursement of anything by anyone (school, booster, or supplier) to anyone associated with the kid !!!Seems pretty simple and realistic to me !!!

  3. Ooops! Previous post was meant to be attached to Popular Science Coverage post which appears under this one in the Mass Media category on this blog! Sorry!

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