Breaking the News Takes Priority Over Accuracy


Both the store and the company who created this sign should go out of business.

Yesterday, I read an article with a spelling error that completely changed the context of the sentence. The name of a local, female school board member was spelled incorrectly, and those who are not familiar with the school board would be led to believe she was a man, based on the spelling. In another article, the first name of the U.S. Secretary of EDUCATION was spelled incorrectly. How careless can journalists be? What’s next? Will the name of the President of the United States be spelled incorrectly?

I am shocked by the numerous spelling and grammatical errors I come across while reading my daily dose of morning news online. It seems the number of errors are increasing to a point where it is getting out of control. I see words left out of sentences, letters left off of words and just horrible overall grammar. It is starting to get ridiculous.

I find these errors on various media sites (including well-known, national news organizations), such as newspapers, blogs and broadcast news websites. Unfortunately, I see many of these errors in the local media here in Charlotte. The Charlotte Observer is not nicknamed the “Charlotte Disturber” for nothing.

Perhaps, I catch errors the average human eye would not, because I am a journalism major, and I’m quite anal when it comes to spelling and grammatical errors. But, the number of mistakes I see, on almost a daily basis, are simply unacceptable. An error here or there is expected; after all, none of us are perfect.  On the other hand, multiple, consistent errors are a cause for concern. I mean, journalists need to take pride in their work. I know they are in a rush to break the news, but what is more important? Breaking the news, or breaking the news accurately?

In a society, where there is a constant race to break the news first and social media sites (especially twitter) are usually first to spread breaking news, it seems copy editing and proofreading have become a low priority. A typical story usually must go through a journalist, at least one editor and a copy editor before being published. Maybe the protocol has changed for online stories due to a lack of time, but at least two sets of eyes (arguably more) need to look at a piece prior to publication. I’m trying to figure out how blatant spelling and grammar errors are getting past so many sets of eyes. Do journalists even care if their grammar is correct as long as the story gets up? They should. I think their journalism teachers and previous editors would be appalled. Not to mention, no journalist wants a byline on an article with a major error.

So I plead with local media (and media in general) to slow down a bit, stop and smell the roses, and please check and double check your stories before publishing them! Then, check your stories after publication for errors that may have been overlooked, and go back and correct them. That is the power of this magical invention, known as the Internet. Changes can be made almost instantaneously! This will make your newspaper or news station more credible and cut down on corrections!

It will also save my eyes from bleeding when I read your articles. Thanks in advance. Now that I’ve said all of this, there is bound to be a mistake in this very blog post. Did you find one?

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6 thoughts on “Breaking the News Takes Priority Over Accuracy

  1. Alexandre R. Labrie says:

    Victoria,

    You’re right. And I think that’s telling of an even bigger issue. Journalism, at least online, is not what it used to be. The focus is on speed and page views, and if publications get exactly the same number of views regardless of whether or not they run a spell check before they post their stuff, then why should they care?

    The game has changed and I don’t like it. These mistakes that I now notice in almost one out of three articles from major publications are telling of a general and overarching decline in standards. If they can’t spell their stuff, how can we expect them to report on issues that matter, let alone hold institutions of power accountable?

    Now, if you ever happen happen to pass by my blog or our website and find a mistake, I expect you to send me a scathing rant. =)

    Cheers,

    Alexandre R. Labrie
    CEO, The International

    • Victoria Belle-Miller says:

      Hello Alexandre,

      I appreciate the comment! You make such a great point. If such careless errors are made in spelling and grammar, it makes you wonder how credible the actual reporting is. There is too much focus now on analytics and how many comments an article will generate, instead of overall accuracy (not just in spelling and grammar, but also in facts). I will definitely check out your website and blog. I’m sure it is very accurate.

      By the way, I didn’t even catch the second “happen.” Our brains are so trained sometimes, we miss repeated words and only see what we expect to see or what we know is right. I’m sure that is how some of these blatant errors are getting through to press. But, that’s why more than person should be reviewing the piece!

      Best,

      Tori Belle-Miller

  2. Carole A. Winston says:

    Hi Tori,
    I just came across your blog and I so enjoyed reading your posts, looking at your recent projects and admiring your pictures.

    You are amazing!

    Take care.

    Carole A. Winston

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