Journalistic Integrity

Do we all know how journalism is supposed to work? Maybe a primer for those who follow mass media.

  1. You hear something, you may have sought it out, or it may have fallen in your lap, it’s interesting, intriguing, and possibly scandalous.
  2. You fact check when you’ve found out, check the credibility of the source, and then you look for other sources. If you can’t find other sources, you shelve the story, because it’s not verifiable.
  3. You find a second source. You check the credibility of the source, if it seems good, you write the story. You submit the story, along with your sources, to whoever decides what to run with. If the story and sources pass muster, the story runs.

Many reasons for this, but #1, you’ve done the work – you have more than one source, and those sources are, as far as you know, solid. However, sometimes things slip through the cracks, and something turns out to be wrong – there’s a “supposed to” for that as well.

  1. You place a retraction, with at least as much energy and positioning as the fallacious story, apologizing for being misinformed.
  2. You remove the original story from any online placement, or at the very least correct it, and ensure the correction has at least the same visibility and push as the original story

These days, an “I think the government did this” from an unsourced, unconfirmed statement will go viral, and if it turns out to be untrue, media will silence the original story, but no retractions at all. All the readers/viewers who read and shared never find out it was fake.

That’s not news or information, it’s viral propaganda.

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