Any form of news is subject to errors. Journalists are human beings and making mistakes happen.
The problem is that getting a name or a number wrong can mislead the reader and cause harm. That’s why one of the main journalistic duties is to get the facts right and double check them. Always double check.
A couple of weeks ago at my internship, I got assigned a story on a trash issue in Beirut, Lebanon. My mission that day was to find a reporter in Beirut who could talk about the problem on radio for the show later that day.
So I started browsing Google and I found some articles dealing with my topic. One of them was an article on the Reuters website called, “Beirut’s mounting trash reflects crisis of government,” by Tom Perry.
As I read his article and was looking for potential people I could interview, I saw a quote from a reporter for a Lebanese newspaper.
Here is a screenshot of the article.
There are plenty of Nicola Nassif that are on Google, one of the entries was even an obituary. But I was practically sure that the Nicola Nassif I was looking for wasn’t dead… Turns out, Nicola was actually Nicolas.
I immediately tweeted at Tom Perry of Reuters to let him know of his mistake. After a week or so, still no response from Perry or correction in the article.
So I tweeted at him again and send an email to the Reuters correction section. But still nothing. I checked today to see if any corrections had been made. And the answer is no.
It was also very hard to find the section to report corrections.
Accuracy is essential to produce good journalism and as I said, journalists are just humans who can make mistakes. I feel like getting constructive feedback from the audience such as corrections is key to better journalism.
Picture credit: Florent Darrault, Kendell Geers > T:error (2003) sans T. Creative Commons, Some Rights Reserved.