Good news for news brands – young people are accessing news via social media, blowing apart notions that the many hours they spend every day on Facebook and Twitter are wasted only on trivialities.
Anton Harber cites research from Jos Kuper: “They don’t read papers or watch traditional TV, but they need quick and current news to keep up with their peer group. They just find and use it differently from the way their parents did. And South African youth, the research showed, are intensely involved with politics and discussing it a great deal. They check their cellphones often during the day and pick up snippets on social media, radio (still the most popular medium) or street news posters, and they Google it to learn more. They don’t trust a single source, knowing that the internet can feed them falsities, and so look at a number of reports, particularly those from branded sites, such as News24, CNN and BBC. Once they have verified the story, they share it — tweeting, posting it on Facebook or e-mailing a screen-print. If the story is particularly interesting, it may go viral — and then the mainstream media might report it.”
Read Anton Harber’s piece on BDlive.
In online publishing perhaps Alexander Pope’s eminent quote “To err is human; to forgive, divine” should be changed to: “to err is human; to correct, divine.” When a fallacious facts make their way into newspapers, the bolted horse often means that corrections are more notably visible.
However in online news often there’s the temptation to fix that fact without a trace of an apology or correction. But given that journalism is the first draft of history, don’t publishes owe it to their readers to act ethically and correct correctly by being transparent in how they make corrections?
The Economist Style Guide dictates:
Apologies and corrections: Unless some other arrangement has been made, apologies and corrections should appear, under the heading Apology (or Correction), in a box in the section giving rise to them, at either the top or the bottom of the page. Corrections need not be ponderous. Apologies, however, should not be flippant. They should leave the reader with the impression that we are genuinely sorry for any offence given, not merely sorry that we had to say sorry.
Making mistakes in the news business is punishing to the ego, but accepting responsibility for those errs creates a sense of accountability which is important to ensure the credibility of news brands.
Besides The Economist Style Guide is useful for a lot more than just good form when it comes to apologies and corrections. From that writer’s ‘how to’, here’s George Orwell’s six elementary rules (“Politics and the English Language”, 1946):
- Never use a Metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
- Never use a long word where a short one will do (see Short words).
- If it is possible to cut out a word, always cut it out (see Unnecessary words).
- Never use the Passive where you can use the active.
- Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a Jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
- Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous (see Iconoclasm).