Avoiding sloppy journalism

On Monday’s episode of “The View,” Whoopi Goldberg ripped into the New York Times for leaving her out of an article that focused on the lack of black nominees at this year’s Oscars. Goldberg spoke out to media outlets and referred to this blunder as ‘sloppy journalism.’ Goldberg’s co-host, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, went as far as canceling her subscription to the newspaper in protest. Social media allows such gaffes to reach the public in record time. How do journalists avoid making such mistakes?

A spokesperson for the New York Times released a statement Tuesday. The statement, which should have been released the same day as Goldberg’s rebuttal, essentially blamed the reader for misinterpreting the point of the article.

Journalists should always make their purpose clear. After finishing a piece, journalists should walk away and return later to re-read their work. This ensures writers have a fresh perspective on the topic at hand.

Fact checking is crucial. Journalists must be wary of their sources and should triple check their facts. Be as fair and accurate as possible. Ted Diadiun, reader representative for Cleveland.com, shares advice for avoiding bias.

This event falls under the category of entertainment news, but imagine the problems these mistakes create in politics. Ronda Hauben, of Global Times China, talks of the danger of making fraudulent claims. This is how falsehoods are spread and misconceptions turn into believed facts.

Greta Van Susteren spoke recently about fair journalism. She feels there is a ‘big difference between facts and imagination’ and speaks of reporting with an agenda. When reporting, journalists should never insert their own opinions.

Sure, everyone makes mistakes, but all of these things can be avoided. For those wondering, Goldberg apologized to the New York Times during today’s broadcast.

FAIR: Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, which challenges media bias and censorship, provides the following tips for reporting:

  • Who are the sources? Count the number of corporate and government sources versus the number of progressive, public interest, female and minority voices. Demand mass media expand their rolodexes; better yet, give them lists of progressive and public interest experts in the community.
  • Is there a lack of diversity? Demand that the media you consume reflect the diversity of the public they serve.
  • From whose point of view is the news reported? Demand that those affected by the issue have a voice in coverage.
  • Do stereotypes skew coverage? Expose the double standard by coming up with a parallel example or citing similar stories that were covered differently.
  • Is the language loaded? Educate journalists about misconceptions involved in stereotypes, and about how stereotypes characterize individuals unfairly.
  • Is there a lack of context? Demonstrate how the language chosen gives people an inaccurate impression of the issue, program or community.
  • Do the headlines and stories match? Call or write the newspaper and point out the contradiction.
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