Courtesy of YouTube user MindElation, the clip below has been doing the rounds, but it’s worth a Friday viewing. The footage shows a US TV reporter losing his cool while presenting a live report – which his anchor later attributes to a technology failure. As the description says: “Every newscaster has similar things happen, but if they’re lucky it’s never captured on video.”
The New York Times’ public editor’s column (August 1) is quite extraordinary in the way it details the mistakes in New York Times’ coverage following Walter Cronkite’s death, a point Steven A. Smith makes here in a blog post.
Not least as it gives quite an insight into NYTimes’ newroom process, including reference to this list: ‘the top 20 among reporters and editors most responsible for corrections this year’.
“For all her skills as a critic, [Alessandra] Stanley was the cause of so many corrections in 2005 that she was assigned a single copy editor responsible for checking her facts. Her error rate dropped precipitously and stayed down after the editor was promoted and the arrangement was discontinued. Until the Cronkite errors, she was not even in the top 20 among reporters and editors most responsible for corrections this year. Now, she has jumped to No. 4 and will again get special editing attention.”
The Guardian (one of the two few UK newspapers to have its own ombudsman, or readers’ editor) picks up the corrections here on its MediaMonkey blog: “If there is a record for the most number of corrections to a single newspaper article, then it may just have changed hands.”
We wonder what Walter Cronkite, renowned for his careful reporting, would have made of all this… Last month in a Q&A with users on WashingtonPost.com, his former chief of staff, Marlene Adler said:
“As a newspaper man and a TV reporter, speed and accuracy were what it was all about. Getting the facts, getting them right and getting the story out first, whenever possible. He didn’t like to be scooped by another network or print reporter. However, he would not release a story, even if it meant being second, if he could not authenticate his sources.”
On Monday, The Washington Post hosted a live Q&A with Marlene Adler, former chief of staff to Walter Cronkite, the much-respected news anchorman who died last week, aged 92. WashingtonPost.com users put questions about his career to her. What would Cronkite have thought of the internet and its impact on journalism, they wondered. Adler said that Cronkite would have adapted easily to online journalism, but that he was worried about internet source attribution.
Here are a couple of excerpts from the interview (Hat-tip: StinkyJournalism):
Chevy Chase, Md (…) “How did Mr. Cronkite feel about technology in general, and specifically as it relates to news and the demise of newspapers”
Marlene Adler: (…) “He loved the new technology, (the Internet) but also saw the problems with reliability of news delivery. He was concerned that news sources on the Internet were not attributable and worried that it would further diminish trust in the news media.
“About newspapers disappearing, he was sad indeed. He was a newspaper man first and loved that part of his life and that business. He was incredulous that entire cities could be without a newspaper.”
Washington, D.C.: “A friend was supposing that she thought Cronkite would have more easily adapted to online journalism because of his work for UPI. What were his thoughts about balancing speed and accuracy, and did he really think it was much different from what countless wire reporters have done for years?”
Marlene Adler: “As a newspaper man and a TV reporter, speed and accuracy were what it was all about. Getting the facts, getting them right and getting the story out first, whenever possible. He didn’t like to be scooped by another network or print reporter. However, he would not release a story, even if it meant being second, if he could not authenticate his sources. I, too, think he would easily have adapted to online journalism.”