It’s all about cred, baby

23 May

As editors, we have the responsibility of making sure whatever passes through our desk on the way to publication leaves that desk fair and accurate. In order to accomplish this, we need to be skeptical of everything we’re reading. Reporters are only human; they often have to write and research stories in a hurry and subsequently make mistakes in their math, spelling, facts. Additionally, it can be hard for reporters to hide personal agendas, no matter how unbiased they believe themselves to be. Only lazy editors will assume all of the information they read in an article’s rough draft, and additional drafts, is correct. Editors need to go the distance. As Reid MacCluggage said, “We don’t raise nearly enough questions.”

The accuracy checklist from the Society of Professional Journalists raised an important question for us to consider while working: Are we ready to defend our decisions publicly? Too often, we fall into the trap of assuming we won’t be held accountable for mistakes we make, especially small ones. If someone’s name is spelled wrong, however, we can be sure they’ll point it out and question the integrity of the publication in the process. Integrity and accuracy are moving into the forefront as the characteristics that make people want to keep traditional media around. They can get information rapidly from many sources, courtesy of the Internet, but the traditional media remain sources of verification. “Did Kanye West really die, like they’re saying on Twitter? I think I should check The New York Times’ Web site.” If we lose our credibility, we lose our purpose.

It’s historical. People hate being misled.


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