WBTV recently reported the death of Billy Graham, who was still alive. I remember when the Associated Press prematurely reported the death of Pope John Paul II. We were minutes away from a newscast and could have perpetuated the bad information. But, without any other evidence that the story was accurate, my gut told me not to go with the information. A few minutes later, the AP issued a retraction. Folks, we’ve got to remember not to believe anything we hear or read at first blush. The rush to be first can cause errors that destroy credibility. And the audience rarely knows who had the story first anyway. The most distressing part of the WBTV story is the unclear explanation for how that happened. Looks like a producer “thought” he saw “something” about Graham being dead and went to air with that. Read more about the mistake.
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- 6 questions journalists should be able to answer before pitching a story | Poynter.
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