February 21, 2008

Eyes on a story -- Just how many are needed

From my News Editing class blog.

We have talked in class about editors and their value.

Alan Mutter in his Reflections of a Newsosaur blog asked readers -- espcially journalists to vote on how many editors should look at a story before the public sees it.Interestingly journalists want more eyes -- that is more editors -- looking at a story.

See The Eyes Have It

So what does this mean?First it means that journalists recognize that we all need some one to look over our shoulders to make sure we get the story right.We know we all make mistakes and have to have some one looking out for those errors. (Think copy editors.)

It also means that we know we need some one to look at potential biases in our writing. We are only human, after all. A choice of one word could change the tone of an article from balanced to biased.

It also means that publications who use editors are at a disadvantage to the rants and raves of bloggers.

Journalists are the gate keepers of information.

Reporters seek out information, select the most important parts and write the stories.

Editors look over the reporters' shoulders to make sure the information provided is balanced and a fair representation of the event. And they check the spelling and grammar.

Mutter, himself, comments that his own column is a volunteer effort. Therefore he cannot afford a copy editor. SO his blog entries have typos galor.

Think how many errors can creep in to blog entries by some one less concerned with the facts than Mutter. And by errors I mean errors of fact not just spelling errors.

Blogs are a fine way to gain a window into the way a group of people think, but unless there are extra eyes on the reporting -- that is, unless an item is run past at least one editor -- think critically about the bias and accuracy of that blog.

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