Monday, January 10, 2011


Saturday's shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords points out continued issues within our news agencies in reporting the news.  Several 24-hour news groups reported Giffords had died from a gunshot wound to the head, which of course, we found out later, was not the "truth", the "whole truth" or "nothing but the truth".   Decisions were made in a mad rush to get the story out before confirming the accuracy of  reports. 

Candlelight vigil outside Congressman Giffords' office

As I see it, it's hard to fault the anchors of those networks mentioned.  They're doing their jobs as newsreaders and to expect them to verify every news account would be's the news directors, producers and reporters that should be taken to task.  That's their jobs.  The following is a report, hopefully accurate, that addresses this issue.

Giffords' Reported Death Shows Need for Accuracy

So, why am I so perturbed about this news inaccuracy?  Well first off, the attacks leveled at our news gatherers is a group I'm part of.  I am a graduate of a journalism school and I seem to remember in Reporting get the facts straight.  Where has that thought process gone?  Secondly, I want to be informed just like anyone else, however, I would prefer it be with the right information.  Kind of like one group says...Fair and Accurate.  Over the years, my news brethren has stubbed its toe in the reporting of some huge news accounts.  Remember these headlines:

"PASSENGERS SAFELY MOVED AND STEAMER TITANIC TAKEN IN TOW" (April 15, 1912) The Christian Science Monitor reported not only that all aboard the Titanic had been saved, but that the ship had not even gone down. "Officials of White Star Company Confident Steamer is Unsinkable and Will Float until Halifax is Reached," read a subheadline.

"DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN" (November 3, 1948 by every major reporting agency)

"JFK RAPS FAULT-FINDERS IN NATION" (November 22, 1963) Early editions of afternoon newspapers carried an AP report of a speech that President John F. Kennedy had made in Dallas that day against opponents who "confuse rhetoric with reality." The article had been based on the text of the speech that Kennedy had prepared to make at the Dallas Trade Mart. Later editions reported that Kennedy had been assassinated while on the way to make the speech.

"FORD REPORTEDLY ACCEPTS NO. 2 SPOT ON GOP TICKET" (July 17, 1980) The Washington Post and other newspapers carrying the Post story by David S. Broder and Lou Cannon reported that former President (and Vice-President) Gerald R. Ford had accepted an offer to serve as Ronald Reagan's running mate at the GOP convention in Detroit.  Subsequent editions reflected that Reagan's primary opponent, George H. W. Bush, became the running mate after the deal with Ford fell through.  One Washington analyst changed the lead of a premature political obituary from "George Bush lost another war last night," to "George Bush finally won a war early this morning."

"CONGRESSMAN'S FLIGHT REPORTEDLY FORCED TO SOVIET ISLE" (September 1, 1983) An early UPI report from Seoul stated that "A Korean Air Lines jumbo jet flying from New York to Seoul Wednesday with 269 people aboard, including a U.S. Congressman, was forced to land on Sakhalin, a Soviet-occupied island north of Japan, the government-run television said. The passengers were reported safe.  Among them was Rep. Larry McDonald (D-GA), John Birch society chairman, whose spokesman said in Washington that American officials believed the jet was forced down by Soviet or North Korean fighter planes." Actually, KAL 007 was shot down and all 269 persons onboard were killed.

"KERRY'S CHOICE: DEM PICKS GEPHARDT AS VP CANDIDATE" (July 6, 2004) The New York Post erroneously stated that U.S. Presidential candidate John Kerry had chosen Dick Gephardt as his running mate, when in fact he had chosen John Edwards.

"'ALIVE!' Miners beat odds" (January 4, 2006) USA Today, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and other newspapers based headlines on erroneous reports that twelve out of the thirteen trapped coal miners survived the Sago Mine disaster, and CNN and Fox News had broadcast what turned out to be a miscommunication.  In reality, twelve out of the thirteen miners did not survive the incident.

As you can see, our newsleaders have made some serious blunders in reporting significant pieces of our history.  In this age where news travels faster than the speed of light, or so it seems, it is of even greater importance to get the facts straight.  It makes me wonder what the headines will say when Jesus returns...."MILLIONS DISAPPEAR, UFO'S SUSPECTED" or "CHRIST RETURNING, ARE YOU READY?"



1 comment:

  1. It sickened me the way some folks immediately started pointing fingers at various individuals and groups - almost as if they helped pull the trigger. We live in very strange times.