Friday, May 07, 2010

When accuracy gets in the way...

...of a good story.

The Pittsburgh television media are attempting to explain how they got a story wrong. There are some legitimate defenses in this report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and in many ways they underline the challenges all media face today.

The age-old idea is "it is better to be accurate than to be first." And that is still the gold standard. But let's also acknowledge that when that standard was written, there was no Internet, no citizen reporters, no cellphones with cameras, no bloggers and therefore no real competition for the traditional media. (The "old days" likely meant two daily newspapers, three local television stations and one local news radio station.)

In such a professional environment, a news organization could take the time to sort out a story. Now, the pressure to "be first" is exacerbated as it has never been because of the communication methods suggested in the previous paragraph.

No, I'm not defending the mistakes that local (or national) media make, but I am saying that they are operating under a different media environment in which the old rules might not be able to be applied as they once were.

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