Saturday, April 29, 2006

Why Don't TV Stations' Apologize?

Homeless Man Did Not Shoot a Police Officer at Hopkins

The first reports from WKYC-TV and then others were that a homeless man was killed after shooting a police officer at Hopkins Airport. This turned out to be wrong. When was the last time you remember a television station apologizing for making a mistake? WKYC had on their website for the entire day that a homeless man was responsible for the shooting. They did not issue a correction or an apology that I could find. (This was not Tom Beres who NEOCH is giving an award to next week at their Annual Meeting--whew.)

I think that the Police identified the man as having loitered in the airport before the shooting, and the media just naturally assumed homeless. Because they used the word loiter, the press immediately thought homeless. Then there is this press virus where one media will use the other media as a source, and eventually it becomes a "fact." This is especially true at a "breaking news" story. Rumors get reported as facts, journalists become gossips, and the story becomes one giant game of telephone. Thus is born the Daily Show and the ability to make fun of the news with "fake news."

If they would just admit their mistakes with the same gusto and graphics that they reported the bad information in the first place, we could accept the mistakes. We need to give the media some lessons in reporting on poverty issues. They always seem to report the myths and stereotypes. Why can't they just say they are sorry? Anyway, the Plain Dealer and Associated Press did not seem to use the word homeless with any of their stories. They should be congratulated.



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