Accuracy Vs. Speed in Media Reporting

Major news corporations are constantly competing against one another to be the first to have the fastest breaking news reports. This need to be the first has caused some reporters to become less accurate in their reporting.

Accuracy is the most important aspect to journalism. Without it, journalists can lose their credibility. The Reuter’s Handbook of Journalism said “accuracy is the heart of what we do. It is our job to get it first but it is above all our job to get it right.” But because of new social mediums, many reporters rush stories in order to be the first to post news reports on sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

An example of media inaccuracies due to speed occurred in January 2010. Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was shot in the head at a public event. News reports were immediately posted that the congresswoman was shot and killed. The actual story being she was shot and critically injured, not killed.

Among these false stories posted were from NPR and the New York Times. They soon corrected their reporting mistakes, but they learned the age-old concept of double and triple checking sources.

Dr. Marcia Garcia, CEO of media consulting firm, Garcia Media, said “it’s not easy competing in this environment, but the importance of accuracy and fairness to good journalism is crucial. We can’t let our desire to be first destroy our need to be right.”

As readers, it begs the question, is it better to have news fast, or is it better for it to be accurate? Craig Silverman, editor of RegretTheError.com said “why not wait 15 minutes or even an hour if it means getting the entire story right, rather than just most of it?” Shouldn’t we be able to trust what the media is telling us, rather than questioning if the actual story will come out a day later?

Alexa Shirek

Photos courtesy of google images.

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This entry was posted in Media Credibility, News coverage, Reporting, Social media and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Accuracy Vs. Speed in Media Reporting

  1. Lindsey P. says:

    Very true!

  2. Anna M. says:

    A journalist’s credibility should not suffer because of one mistake. Unfortunately that’s how it works. I am trying to get in the habit of checking my sources more than ever so I won’t have to worry about publishing inaccurate information. I also enjoyed your link to regrettheerror.com!

  3. nelsoabb says:

    This is a really good point. Journalists need to learn how to be speedy, yet accurate. The world of media continues to expand leaving plenty of room for competition, which puts a lot of pressure on journalists to have the big story first. I definitely think it is worth it though for the journalist to wait out that extra hour to make sure that everything is accurate because just like Anna said, credibility can be lost due to just one mistake.

  4. Kristine Miluna says:

    Alexa, you have written a thought provoking post.
    Accuracy is definitely one of the most crucial aspects in journalism.
    However, because of the competition journalists are often forced to publish the information they have, hope that it’s accurate, and let readers follow the updates.

    Waiting an hour or more would definitely benefit the accuracy of news, but it sounds more like utopia in today’s news market, as people want to see, read, and hear the news as it happens.

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