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Rex Huppke @RexHuppke
, 12 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
1/ Here's a thread about journalism. Specifically about the reckless and absurd use of the term "fake news." I made a mistake in my column that was published Monday online and in Tuesday's print edition. It was the column about a lost dog, Finn, who was found after four days.
2/ In the column, I said the woman who found Finn worked part-time at an animal hospital in Chester, Ind. That was the mistake. The hospital is in Chesterton, Ind. I screwed up the name and didn't catch it when I was back-reading the column. Those of you who like me might say...
3/ ...something like, "Oh, that's no big deal." And while I'd appreciate that, it's not true. It is a big deal. Because any mistake is a big deal. I hate them. All journalists hate them. Even the slightest screw-up keeps most of us up at night. The importance of accuracy has...
4/ ...been hammered into us since our earliest days in this business. That's part of why "fake news" is such an insult, and such a false allegation. Mistakes happen, yes. But the vast majority of journalists do not take even the smallest mistake lightly. And we certainly don't...
5/ ...make things up. The other crucial element to all this is that my mistake will now be corrected. How? Well, first I told my editor about the error. That's never fun. Then I had to fill out a seven-step clarification form that: identifies the error; provides the text for...
6/ ...a clarification that can run in print; explains how the error happened; identifies how the error was brought to our attention; discusses how the error could have been avoided; and, perhaps most importantly, included the name of the journalist who made the mistake.
7/ Next, the online version of the story (or column, in my case) will be updated so the error is corrected, but a note will remain on the online version saying that it has been updated to correct an error. And the clarification will run in the print edition as well. It's a lot.
8/ And it should be a lot. It's called accountability, and journalists who work for reputable news organizations face accountability day in and day out. As we should. It doesn't matter if it's misspelling the name of a town or an error that impacts the central point of a story.
9/ All mistakes matter, and they are corrected. And they get you in trouble. A couple years ago, I had a streak of three mistakes in three different columns over a period of about a month. They were dumb mistakes. Identifying a senator as a congressman, a name misspelling etc...
10/ I'm a columnist and a veteran at the paper. And that didn't make a damn bit of difference. I was told in no uncertain terms that I needed to get my shit together. Mistakes happen. But someone continuously making mistakes won't be tolerated. Period.
11/ So this idea of "fake news" is repugnant to journalists like me who are held to high standards of accuracy. It's propaganda aimed at discrediting the media as a whole. But the truth - the facts behind how news organizations like mine handle errors - reveals the lie. END
One more thing! I'd appreciate if you'd consider sharing this thread. Not for self-promotion but simply because the more people understand how journalism works, the better things will be. Thanks!
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