Getting news right more important than getting it first
Sometimes, the devil's in the details.
Recently, several national media outlets had to step back and apologize after publishing the wrong details in a story.
In one recent instance, it was reported – falsely – that actor Matthew McConaughey and his wife, Camila, had welcomed a newborn baby girl.
However, their newborn child was actually a boy.
It might not seem like a big deal, but little missteps like this lead to a distrust of the media in general.
And this is a small example of it. Sometimes, it has bigger repercussions, such as the day of the Connecticut shootings.
The media, eager to release details of that horrific day, initially reported that Ryan Lanza was the shooter, when in fact it was his younger brother, Adam. Reports differ as to why the names were switched. Some outlets have said Adam was carrying his brother's identification, while others said that a law enforcement official accidentally switched the brother's names.
Either way though, the information was incorrect.
In our news-hungry, information-right-now society, it's hard to sometimes hit the pause button and wait for the truth to emerge.
News organizations are competing to be “the first” with a story – that concept of a scoop still looms large in newsrooms big and small across America. And there is an appropriate time to put information out very quickly, such as when someone dangerous is on the loose, and public safety is at risk.
But it's vital to an organization's credibility that we also get it right, which is the consideration that should outweigh any other.
Getting the details straight is the number one job of a journalist. Media outlets should take the time to make sure, to the best of their ability, that information is accurate before launching it into the immediacy of the public sphere. It's a standard that this newspaper firmly believes in.