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Should newspapers be correcting the internet?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by JayFarrar, Nov 9, 2009.

  1. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    With the rise of blogs and "citizen journalists" newspapers are getting more calls and e-mails asking if some wild rumor was true.
    Should papers be in the business of reporting those rumors and pointing out the errors? Should they ignore them and move on? Should it be the happy middle or something else?

    Here's why I ask. My city had a recent natural disaster. People died. A commenter on a blog claimed to have inside information and said one death was because the fire department responded with only one fireman on the truck because the city's broke and can't afford to have full staffing. Another blog picked up the comment and did a "story" on it. Now I heard about it when it roughly happened. I got reports from the police and fire departments. From the paperwork it looks like a standard reponse to a tragic situation. A three-man crew on the fire truck, an ambulance crew and a couple of police cars.
    Lots of other shit was going down at the time, so the response was a little thin, maybe, but it certainly wasn't one lone fireman trying to save a life.

    So here I am, I've already chased it down and wondering what I should do next.
  2. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Just do your own reporting and be accurate.
  3. J-School Blue

    J-School Blue Member

    I really loathe the trend of papers and TV news programs giving legitimacy to BS rumor-mongering in BLOGS! and the like. And I do think that even recognizing them to point out that they're BS legitimizes them. In the above case, report the real, actual info from the real, actual sources that is really, actually true. Explain in a way that dispels the rumor-mongering, maybe, but don't legitimize the rumor-mongering unless a source actually brings it up.

    So ITA with the "just do your own reporting and be accurate" bit.

    Honestly, part of me has reached the point where I just feel, if people are ignorant fucking simps enough to believe what is clearly utter unsubstantiated trash, then let them be ignorant fucking simps and they can wallow in their own sty of stupid. The more intellectually competent can be the ones who actually knows things about their world. But I'm bitter and that's probably not the point of reporting. :)
  4. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    Our jobs are to inform. If that means knocking down rumors so be it.
  5. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Why can't we inform without mentioning rumors? Our jobs are to inform and I can do that just fine without having to mention some whack-job who obviously sees the world a lot differently than 99.9 percent of the rest of us.

    Mustang, do you go out and report? If I have to refute every falsehood I hear in the community, I wouldn't have time to write original stories.
  6. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    See, this is exactly my point. I hear all kinds of shit. It used to be contained to old men grumbling over coffee and such. Now, because of the web, a larger community are hearing the rumors and if I spent my day chasing the rumors down, when do I write and report things actually going on?
  7. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    Think of it this way - if there were rumors flying around the local coffee shop about the fire department and it was slowly creeping its way into the community and gaining steam as fact, would you write a story to set things straight so the community would be properly informed?
    Do the story and call the fuckers' web site out. Find out the name of the guy who wrote the piece for it. Ask him why he wrote it without facts and why he would mislead the community.
  8. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    I rarely report, thank god because I'm not in sports anymore and can't stand news writing. I didn't say refute all rumors. But I would think sometimes you may have to. Of course, we have to refute rumors and incorrect information from the local radio and television stations as well. It isn't exclusive to BLOGS!
  9. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    If radio and TV and BLOGS are reporting XYZ, I don't see how our reporting ABC based on the facts isn't refuting their rumors on the face of it.
  10. nmmetsfan

    nmmetsfan Active Member

    I agree. You reporting the facts with proper sourcing will reveal the mistakes made by others without you needing to directly get into rumor control.
  11. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    If you want to correct, go ahead. But I don't have to time or the inclination to correct some rumor that some nutjob came up with. What about the black helicopter and alien anal probe crowd? Should I write stories that black helicopters aren't flying around?

    We live in a world, good or bad, where people can choose where they get their news. If they want accurate the vast majority of the time, go with a newspaper. If you want the truth 10 percent of the time, go with a blog. Just don't complain to me when the blogs get it wrong.
  12. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    Here's the thing, though. Newspapers are losing -- or more accurately, have already lost -- the monopoly on being the voice of the truth. If not in reality, then at least in public perception.

    Now, everyone on this board knows that the strongest and most ethical level of daily reporting is done by newspaper reporters, but standing alone with your principles isn't always enough in this modern media landscape. Progressing down the food chain, you've got television, sports talk radio and bloggers (in that order) all competing with you for attention and audiences, and, sadly, they're gaining ground.

    So sometimes -- not always, but sometimes -- you do have to go out and knock down bad reporting by other outlets, particularly when that bad reporting gains traction in a community. If you ignore it, you run the risk of looking even more out of touch with the community than they already think you are.

    There are, of course, proper ways to go about doing this. Report the truth and hold irresponsible parties accountable when absolutely necessary. But in these modern times, you absolutely cannot ignore it when erroneous information takes root.
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