Sunday, February 12, 2017

Accuracy and verification

Had a problem this week with accuracy and verification in a story we published. It was unsettling because the person who raised the biggest stink about it wasn't even named in the story.
The story had to do with alleged fraud from a political committee. It was discussed during an open meeting and we published the account from that meeting. The fact we got wrong was writing that the case had been turned over to authorities when it, in fact, had not. Our mistake and we printed a correction.
The other thing we didn't do, if we thought the case had been turned over to investigators, was we didn't contact the people we named who served on a committee during the alleged fraud timeline.
It was distressing because my reporter, who is a veteran, should have known better ... and I, as editor, should have caught it. It went through several people and none of us caught it.
There can be plenty of excuses made as to why this happened ... but bottom line, I should have caught it. It's frustrating because we have people logging on to social media calling us "fake news." This person seemingly had many friends in town, so folks are expected to jump on the "dishonest media" bandwagon. It seems we cannot make one error without getting disparaged. It is disheartening, to say the least.
This week's unit never applied so much.


  1. I can feel for your frustration at the public reactions and at yourself and your reporter for missing what seemed so clear in hindsight. "Fake news" has become such a ridiculous blanket insult. A mistake, especially with good intent, is not fake news. It sounds as if you and the publication did what you could to transparently correct the error. I'm sure the publication will be better for learning from the mistake, too.

  2. This happens despite our best intentions, and I think it happens most frequently when we are under time pressures. It’s so frustrating, though.