Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Vetted Journalism

About 10 years ago, Walter Cronkite helped out with some public radio on-air fundraising by recording an interview to be used in pledge drives. One of his central points was that you could hear "good editing" in public radio news. He talked about the importance of continuing to invest in the editorial process.

That's why this article in the New York Times about the vanishing copy editor caught my eye. Web 2.0 makes Mr. Cronkite's point more important than ever. A public radio listener said to me the other day, "Think about the number of times you see something on the web, often forwarded to you by a friend, and when you read it you say 'that can't be true.' And a quick check on Google proves it is not. Then think about the number of times you listen to Morning Edition and say, 'that can't be true.' Almost never. It just doesn't happen."

The amount of unedited, unchecked content will grow exponentially faster that fact-checked, well-edited content. This creates what might be one of the most significant niches for public radio in a Web 2.0 world, vetted journalism. Put another way, there will always be a market for accuracy and the well-chosen word. Maybe that's why services such as getanedit.com are starting to pop up. (I have no financial interest in this service.)

Investing in the editorial process should be a priority for public radio (or public media if you prefer). This is true at the network level and even at the smallest stations. The phrase "everyone needs an edit" applies universally. If applied consistently, public radio can become a shining star over the new media landscape.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous man who is a NPR fan said...

"Think about the number of times you see something on the web, often forwarded to you by a friend, and when you read it you say 'that can't be true.' And a quick check on Google proves it is not. Then think about the number of times you listen to Morning Edition and say, 'that can't be true.' Almost never. It just doesn't happen."

I don't disagree with your central point, but that quote above is from the blind leading the blind.

First of all, I listen to Morning Edition every day, and I do hear things that are "wrong". More accurately, I hear things that are gross oversimplifications. I only hear it when the topic happens to be something I'm already quite knowledgeable about, so the total number of times is rare. But it's disturbing how consistently it happens; if the topic is something I know a lot about, I almost always hear something "wrong". Makes me wonder how often media...including NPR...is getting something "wrong" in the topics I don't know that much about.

And this doesn't even account for people who listen to NPR and are convinced that it's completely "wrong" because it happens to refute the inaccuracies in their own ideology, like those CAMERA folks and Bill O'Reilly fans.

11:35 AM  

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