News Stories vs. The Truth

Journalism is meant to be inseparable from the truth, or so most thought. The first section entitled ‘Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth’  goes against the previous aggregated post – about sensationalism and exaggerating conspiracies rather than fact. In complete contrast to the truth, the inaccuracy plaguing news stories is evident and has been thoroughly explored over time.

According to Jonathan Stray’s article, the last significant experiment undertaken by academics reported that accuracy errors were found ‘in 59% of 4,8000 stories across 14 metro newspapers.’ Furthermore, the news accuracy survey by Scott Maier – alluded to in the report – sheds more light on the increasing levels of inaccuracy in news stories during the 20th century until today, ‘More than 60% of local news and news feature stories in a cross-section of American daily newspapers were found in error by news sources.’

Once again reverting to the ‘Current Problems in the Media’ article, ‘according to an in-depth study by the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1999, 23 percent of the public find factual errors in the news stories of their daily paper at least once a week while more than a third of the public – 35 percent – see spelling or grammar mistakes in their newspaper more than once a week.  The study also found that 73 percent of adults in America have become more skeptical about the accuracy of their news.’ The inaccuracy already discovered, however, may lead to even more suspicions being uncovered in the near future.

Various suspicions around the creation of quotes or sayings is elucidated in, ‘The Columbia Journalism Review and the nonprofit, nonpartisan research firm Public Agenda polled 125 senior journalists nationwide in 1999 on various questions.  When asked: “Have you ever seriously suspected a colleague of manufacturing a quote or an incident?” a disturbingly high 38 percent answered yes.’

The ambiguity, suspected false references and inaccuracies are certainly issues that journalism faces today.

References:

Stray, J 2011, Measuring and improving accuracy in journalism, Jonathan Stray, viewed 1 June 2014, http://jonathanstray.com/measuring-and-increasing-accuracy-in-journalism

Daily Source 2014, Current Problems in the Media, Daily Source, viewed 1st June 2014, http://www.dailysource.org/about/problems#.U4sAw_mSySo

 

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