Editorial: Considering the source

Posted Wednesday, April 24, 2013 in Opinion

Editorial: Considering the source

Last week's events in Boston created a media firestorm.  That's natural enough; a major event such as a bombing at the Boston Marathon, occurring as it did on national television, is bound to create interest.

In the heat of a police chase, or when numerous sources and informants are providing data, some of the details get skewed.  One has a little bit of compassion for reporters and correspondents in that situation, giving the news-hungry public information as soon as they can.

But even in a stressful situation, there are rules to follow, and we've all known them since the first day of our first journalism class:  Confirm your information with a second source.  Don't report what you are told by anonymous sources without a backup with a face.  Make sure that your source is close to the seat of power and has authority to speak.

What was not acceptable was the vast amount of erroneous information that was put out there by generally reliable sources.

We're not talking about the lunatic fringe conspiracy theory websites, or FOX news, or the New York Post.  Everyone knows (or ought to know by now) that those sources are highly suspect. And they got it wrong nearly every time they printed a word or opened their mouths.  If nothing else, the Murdoch papers/"news" networks finally woke up the majority of people who might have been tempted to consider them legitimate news operations.

But one does expect a slightly higher calibur of reporting from John King of CNN, or of the Associated Press.

In contrast, the restrained reporting by the New York Times, which refused to go to press on rumor, was a shining example of quality journalism, needed so badly in troubled times like these.

***Corrected 4/25 ***

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