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What happened to accuracy in news stories?

by on 20 Sep, 2010

I happened to read a number of UK newspapers one day last week so I was able to compare competing coverage of the same story.

It’s always instructive to see how different papers angle the same news for their readership. But you do expect that the facts on which they base their stories will be the same.

Not last week. Not when it came to the number of people injured when a coffee machine exploded at a Sainsbury supermarket cafe.

Some of the papers gave the number injured as 7. Others gave it as 14. That’s a big difference. Were they defining injuries differently? And if so how?

It’s impossible to tell from the stories themselves. They do seem to agree that six people were taken to hospital. Most them quote the Hampshire police as their source for that fact.

But that kind of wide variation is just grist for our critics. It looks like proof that we’re making it up as we go along, massaging the facts to make the story sound more dramatic.

And that is not what good news writing should ever be about.

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From → News writing

One Comment
  1. Or in this specific case, maybe it’s down to the froth on top of the story…? Just journalists espressing themselves…?

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