The journalism profession and media in general has been going through rapid changes, the manner in which news were gathered traditionally has new meaning, the introduction of new media and digital journalism has established among other things a fast paced mechanism to meet increasing demand of the news. Everything is at the speed of a tweet or a blog post, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because one of the great things about digital media is that it is at most convenient but it also has stained marks as far as news reporting goes, the whole purpose of news lies within the value at which it is told and the highest value in news by far has to be accuracy, which normally falls back when a journalist is looking to stay ahead of the pack by bringing home the big fish.
According to Steven Buttery , journalist tend to give in on the competitive games with their rivals—always looking to being branded as a lead in mainstream journalism, traditionally accuracy and verification are news values that cannot be compromised, it does not matter how much time the story needs to come together because there are ethical implications to consider when covering just about any story, the need to be first could actually result in a breach of the ethical conduct that is enshrined within the Press code, journalists have a duty to uphold the utmost values and ethics, that doesn’t mean they are not human because they make mistakes, but the mistakes should not be at the expense of the profession, there more inaccurate stories get published because journalists are lazy to do what is required to actually formulate a story ready for publication, the more the public perception about journalists in general deteriorates.
The perfect example of causing way more damage by neglecting to go through the process of verification when reporting the news is the Ebola crisis, the news reporting on Ebola actually caused away more panic than warranted, there was a lot of media organisations looking to lead the story that and because the answers and facts about epidemic were vague, reporters forged ahead and created a global panic without taking into consideration the consequences to jumping the gun on reporting on the sensitive issue.
According to Bob Cesca, who writes for The Daily Banter, in the digital era, there is an increased temptation to run with what’s expedient rather than with that is accurate, he also insists that journalists need to have the willingness to lose the number one stop, maybe lose a couple of hits, journalists need to pursue accuracy and adhere to ethical conducts rather than always looking to secure first position.
Taking into consideration that everything that gets published has some sort of impact on people’s lives, there are things to consider, one of them mentioned by W.B. Ross (1871-1971) when he argues his seven prima facie duties, when making decisions, one needs to needs to prioritise what he calls ‘duty of non-maleficence’ which is part of pluralistic Deontology and loosely translates that decision made should always strive to avoid harming other people, journalists have the responsibility to ensure that the profession is credible. In the digital era, the concept of credibility runs at a risk of being completely foreign within news, the pressure to produce also has a huge impact on the issue of accuracy, people are impatient now because they are spoiled for choice and options and every journalist wants to the one to cater to that demand, thus leading to the complete disregard of proper journalistic ethics. Social Media delivers news in a split second, whereas traditional platforms still have the time to spend on verification and accuracy, the detrimental effects of going about being the first to break the story are vast, its shapes false perceptions, destroys the credibility of journalists and most importantly it is just journalism malpractice.
The world has moved to create a convenience in news, this has intensified the level of competiveness amongst journalist, it is the easiest thing to lose track of the principles that define journalistic prowess, if news at the speed of a tweet or anything of that sort is going to become a vital part of the news reporting fabric, then there needs to be guidelines set in place to ensure that accuracy is prioritised, the Reuters Handbook also placed accuracy above all the values that guide their reporters. What is news if it does not carry any substance or any factual detail? That is the question that should be running through every reporter’s mind when contemplating a story.