10 Ways Reporters Can Screw up an Article

  1. Quote the clueless bystanders (the people with the least knowledge of the issue).
  2. Pick the stupidest (or most sensational) thing each person says and quote it.
  3. Quote only one person from "both" sides, assuming that there are only 2 sides to a given a story.
  4. Quote someone with a financial interest in the issue and fail to expose how that interest biases their views.
  5. Misrepresent the identity of people you're quoting.
  6. Fail to check your facts or verify quotes.
  7. Fail to tell people how they can get involved or learn more about an issue.
  8. Claim to be "objective" and "unbiased" by knowing nothing about the issue (Ignorance reinforces mainstream values. When a reporter is ignorant of an issue, they can't tell if they're being misled.)
  9. Report facts about an issue only as quoted opinions rather than standing behind the facts and printing them as such.
  10. Show up late to the event and try to piece it together by asking whomever's left. (Leaving an event too early can be even worse.)
5 Ways News Editors Can Screw up an Article

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Last modified: 22 June 1996

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