Accuracy in reporting is an important (and obvious!) element of journalism – but how do we measure this and how can we quickly and efficiently correct errors?
Idea Lab’s Scott Rosenburg writes ‘There’s No Problem!’ Newsrooms in Denial About Rampant Errors’. Here’s an excerpt from his article:
Climbing The Ladder of Transparency
In the field of corrections as anywhere else, “openness” isn’t binary — it has gradations and nuances. I like to imagine these as a sort of ladder of transparency that news organizations need to climb.
On the first rung of this ladder, journalists readily fix mistakes they learn about and conscientiously disclose and record the details of each fix. (Most newsrooms declare allegiance to this ideal but, sadly, our MediaBugs research shows, the majority still fail to live up to it.)
One rung up, news outlets effectively solicit error reports from their audiences, making it clear that they welcome the feedback and will respond. The Report an Error Alliance is trying to push more news organizations to climb up here.
On the next rung up, newsrooms also willingly expose their own internal deliberations over particular controversies, explaining why they did or didn’t correct some issue readers raised and leaving some sort of public trail of the decision. At some publications, the ombudsman or public editor takes care of some of this.
On the final, topmost rung, the news organization will assure accountability by turning to a neutral third party to maintain a fair record of issues raised by the public. This shows external critics that the newsroom isn’t hiding anything or trying to shove problems under the rug. This is a key part of our model for MediaBugs.
I like the idea of an accuracy search engine – the Report and Error Alliance is pretty good but more organisations, bloggers and journalists need to adopt this kind of thinking – particularly online! The internet allows for readers to communicate with journalists like never before…such abilities should be embraced to enhance journalistic standards and methods.