Mistakes, False News, and Errors

Ratings: The first to report the news.

We are always eager to find out news as soon as possible. The news stations are eager to be the first to tell a story, due to the pressures of ratings. Telling the story first and revising with apologies seems to be popular in the news world. After the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, the FBI scolded several news outlets for reporting that an arrest had been made in error. (Carter, 2013). This places a great deal of ethical dilemmas with the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. News agencies are historical for violations on the SPJ’s Code of Ethics. Journalists should always “Seek Truth and Report It. Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information” (SPJ Code of Ethics, 2014).  Ratings may be the primary culprit for this occurrence to take place.

More Evidence: Tell a better story without having to apologize.

Nowadays anyone can tell a story with the technological advances that we have such as smartphones, and tablets. Quickly the information can be put in sites such as you tube, and a misrepresented story can be told in seconds by a non-credible source. We expect more out of our news stations. Citizens want a news stations to report accuracy. A Journalist should take special precautions when reporting the news. There should be responsible journalism, neither speed nor format excuses inaccuracy, make sure to not misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story, and also to gather and update the correct information to report the news story (SPJ Code of Ethics, 2014). News should be told in a manner that already prevents a panic situation from becoming a true horror story. News stations should be tactful when addressing bad news to prevent a worse situation from happening. We as viewers should certainly demand the truth and require that there is enough evidence to substantiate a news story.

Immediate Knowledge: Is it fair for citizens?

We as citizens should be more demanding with the truth in Journalism. The importance for accuracy should be paramount when telling a story. Citizens should receive the truth in a news story and also have their safety protected at all times. Sites like Facebook (social media) are less respectful when reporting a story. An example of this is when Jackie Chan’s death was reported as a hoax on Facebook. This may be acceptable in sites such as Facebook, but viewers expect accuracy from the news. Our desire for wanting to know a story first, and the news station for wanting to report the story first for the sake of ratings is responsible. A news story should always contain the element of “truth.” In the year 2000 the Committee of Concerned Journalists were concerned about “getting the facts right’ when covering a news story. Aspiring to Journalism of Verification there must be caution when explaining the verification process (Kovach, B., & Rosenstiel, T. 2010). Demanding viewers and news stations need for ratings are indeed the culprit as to why the demands for immediate knowledge have historically lead to errors in telling a news story.


Carter, B. (2013, April 17). The F.B.I. criticizes the news media after several mistaken reports of an arrest. The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/18/business/media/fbi-criticizes-false-reports-of-a-bombing-arrest.html?_r=1.

Kovach, B., & Rosenstiel, T. (2010). Blur: How to know what’s true in the age of information overload. New York, NY: Bloomsbury.

SPJ code of ethics. (2014, September 6). Society of Professional Journalists. Retrieved from: http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp.

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