Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tricky Just Got Trickier

One good reason so much misinformation ends up in the newspaper is that there is misinformation at the source.

For example, WUNC repeatedly referred to an inaugural event in the Marriott because we could never get the event to correct the name of the venue. Why does it matter? First, there are two full-service Marriott’s in Durham and second, the event wasn’t held in either one. It was held in the Durham Civic Center, adjacent to the hotel. The hotel doesn’t have function space but it does manage and cater events in the City-County owned facility adjoining.

It is tricky to get news outlets to adopt accurate guidelines so they can catch or avoid being infected by mistakes like this. It also depends on the diligence of the news editor and whether their given time to check.

But this is now getting even more difficult. Many news websites take direct feeds from newswires. So while editors of the print edition may catch and correct mis-references, the websites apparently don’t have gatekeepers. Nor from a recent experience with the Raleigh paper do the print editors feel empowered or responsible to give the web editors a heads up.

So misinformation proliferates. Big problem if we are to believe what we hear and read.


Anonymous said...

Getting the facts right in an article has to come from the source. I've found that submitting a press release along with an interview - with all the facts double checked, gets you a "cleaner" article.

Reyn said...

Correct. But what I'm talking about are errors by the originating reporter or news service. For example, Nielson used the correct terminology for the 20+ county Raleigh-Durham (Fayetteville) DMA in a recent blog. But a national news service truncated it to just the name of the airport. Print papers picked up the mistake locally but not nationally. And websites didn't pick it up at all.