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May 16, 2005

The Growing Need for Accountability in Reporting

The latest scandal in the MSM is the Newsweek story about the Òflushing of the KoranÓ by interrogators over at Guantanamo Bay in order to get prisoners to talk.

Riots ensued in the Muslim world, causing the destruction of U.S. and U.N. buildings. Not to mention, approximately 16 Muslims were killed, while 100 others were injured. Holy war was called for against the U.S. by radical mullahs.

Now it turns out that the implications in the Newsweek article wereÉfalse.

ThatÕs right, false. And while Editor Mark Whitaker has apologized for the error and extends Òsympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst," itÕs just another black eye for the MSM, which has gone through a lot lately.

Now letÕs be realistic: Reporters are human just like the rest of us. They make mistakes. And any good reporter will, when a mistake is made, correct it as soon as possible. I have first-hand experience in this: Shortly after I graduated from college, I took a job as a newscaster/reporter for a small AM radio station. I was excited about the prospect of furthering my career in radio (I had been working part-time as a DJ), but wasnÕt sure how much IÕd like reporting. However, I was willing to give it a go.

Unfortunately, a few weeks into the job, I made an error in a local story that ran for most of the morning after I had written it. When someone involved in the story called my boss to tell her, she corrected it immediately. And, when I came in for my afternoon/evening shift, she told me what happened.

I did not get fired. She was willing to keep me on. However, I was mortified that I might make similar errors in the future. Afterward, I had knots in my stomach whenever I had to go into work. Eventually I resignedÉI couldnÕt take the pressure.

When mistakes happen, someone needs to be accountable. In this case, both my boss and I took responsibility for the error. However, my inaccuracy didnÕt cause riots, destruction and death. And, my mistake wasnÕt a result of any particular agendaÉI simply got my facts wrong because I wasnÕt listening closely.

Whether theyÕll admit to it or not, much of the MSM has an agenda. ItÕs an agenda that is more often than not contradictory to what the current administration stands for. So the question remains: in their haste to discredit President Bush, are more inaccuracies being presented to the public? The Dan Rather/CBS fake memo debacle and Eason JordanÕs Òoff the recordÓ comments come immediately to mind.

Journalists claim they are unbiased in their reporting. If theyÕre going to make that claim, theyÕre going to have to do a much better job of proving it.

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Posted by Pam Meister at 01:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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