Ben Marrison is a thoughtful, knowledgeable newspaper editor. He knows his readers, his market and his owners (perhaps the most important constituency for any editor).
In his latest Sunday column, he displays the angst nearly all leaders of traditional media are experiencing. He tells of bringing in Los Angeles consultants to look over the Dispatch’s Web operations to make suggestions for improvement.
Among the recommendations: Get the story out first, and worry about accuracy later. Web readers, the consultants, told Marrison, know that eventually the truth will get out. Marrison, of course, recoiled in horror.
I know exactly what he means: As a grizzled news guy, myself, I would rather shut down the operation than knowingly put out false information, or fail to at least do the minimum of professional reporting.
The question, however, is whether that position is hypocritical. What exactly does accuracy mean? As reporters, we know that much of what we offer as “news” is accurately quoted nonsense from people with agendas.
Worthy of much pondering, yes? Make sure you check out the comments associated with Marrison’s column. They are very instructive on how Internet users view their local news sites, and reveal how truly savvy some of these consumers are.