Editors are Essential

THE INDUSTRY OBLIGATION

There is no doubt that social media has earned its place in the newsroom.  But, breaking news is hard enough to get straight and adding the combination of weather-related chaos, digital technology and the need for speed, and it can be deadly for accuracy in the news business.  In the event of breaking news and long-lasting weather events, newsrooms must do a better job of managing this new media environment.

LACK OF SOCIAL MEDIA FACT-CHECKING

There is a serious lack of fact-checking Tweets and other stories that are hitting the web at a moment’s notice.   A survey conducted by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard provides some proof of the widespread problem.   The study found that only half of 155 U.S. newspaper organizations required copyediting their online news.   When copyeditors are removed from the equation, fact errors can make their way into circulation. The larger newspapers with circulation above 10,000 reported never copyediting online stories.   While the numbers haven’t been tabulated, a quick glance at mediabistro.com, a website focusing on trends and jobs in the media, tells the story of newsroom layoffs, with editors and managers being among the top to go.

MANAGERS SHOULD TAKE NOTE

Every newsroom has an obligation to their readers and viewers to be just as thorough fact-checking their online stories as they do their on-air or published stories.   Some news organizations are getting the message.   “The Las Vegas Review-Journal” has reorganized its newsroom, adding two new deputy editors.  Editor Michael Hengel says, “The management changes are part of the newspaper’s continuing efforts to respond to changing market conditions while focusing on content for its online and print publications.”  Newsrooms should be adequately staffed to ensure stories are accurate.  Media management could all learn a lesson from Hengel.  In a time when cuts are being made, there should be a strong fight to keep editors in place.

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