Television News Reporting Causes Misinformation

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Andrew Prokop, Managing Editor

The television was a great invention for news, keyword was. In the early 2000’s, the newspaper industry started to see subscriptions decline around our nation. This is because television was increasing in popularity, providing its viewers with constant entertainment and up to the minute live reporting on important news events. One of the most important aspects of a good news source is that they are first to report on new stories. This is because viewers generally don’t want to hear about something that happened two weeks ago.

This speed comes with a dangerous tradeoff for the news industry, though. Reporting within moments of an event leads to the spread of misinformation. Trying to take in something that just happened and sort through eyewitness accounts and stories leads to false narratives because of the lack of time to fact check and let the story develop. This is seen constantly throughout news media outlets and their subsidiaries.

Now to make such an egregious claim without proof would be a terrible misrepresentation on my part. Here are a few stories that have been a poor representation of news reporting and to show why giving a story time to develop is so important for news reporting.

On January 29th, 2019, Jussie Smollett a well-known American actor, reported to the Chicago police that he was a victim of a hate crime. Major news outlets such as NBC and CBS ate up the story, reporting on the story from the instant it hit their radar. This was major news and without giving the story time to develop, and at a crucial time for racial injustice in our nation it made headlines everywhere. In the coming days the story played out, police raided the home of the suspects, who were able to prove that they were paid by Mr. Smollett to commit the crime against him. A story with profound impact that if given the time for facts to be reported, would have been just as intriguing as the staged lies.

In 2013, during the manhunt for the Boston bombing suspect, CNN and Fox both came out and reported that an arrest has been made 2 days before the actual arrests were made. This was a quick jump in an attempt to be able to say their news station reported on the story first.

These stories are just a few of the hundreds of examples, but I would be remiss, if it was not said that newspapers often have these same problems although generally to a lesser extent. The difference is due to the time from receiving the story, to reporting the story. For television news, the stories are reported to the minute, whereas with most newspapers, stories don’t get reported until the next day or even week due to the writing and print times. Although this may seem like a small difference to the consumer, when it comes to the unfolding of a story any time that can be used to fact check and allow for more details to be revealed is crucial for news reporting. This is the key reason that we at the Informer work to only release stories weekly, so when campus news and events happen, we can make sure that we have all of the facts to give the best reporting to our fellow Hawks.