Media should be fined for factual inaccuracies (or distortions)

October 5th, 2009

Have been fatigued with mainstream media for quite some time.

I can’t watch one hour of the news without pointing out an inaccuracy.

The common ones are:

  • Distortion of statistics, establishing causation or correlation in statistics where there is no link.  (My #1 gripe). (Does no news network ever have a statistician validate numbers?!?!!)
  • Misquoting, taking a 5 second sound bite out of a larger conversation.  Using this you can slur a story anyway you want.
  • Hearsay reported as fact.
  • Blatant delivering a press release as news (ie human interest story solved by a new product).

Media should be fined for misrepresentation, I am happy for them to say their ‘may’ be a link between these or to say rumour has it.  But be honest, say what it is.  Otherwise you should get fined for it.

And lets be honest they’re never going to report news saying it’s based on hearsay.  As you will realise it’s rubbish – or is that just the definition of mainstream media in the 21st century?

What do you think?

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9 Responses to “Media should be fined for factual inaccuracies (or distortions)”

  1. Hamish Says:

    You might have define ‘media’ a bit more clearly. Should bloggers be held to the same standard? If not, why not?

  2. Joel Says:

    Since news/stories are more kind of one-off products, people just don’t care, and editors are too busy to meet the deadline.

    If there were any mistakes or distortions, that’s even better for media businesses, since it will generate buzz, as we know publicity is everything regardless good or bad (think about those celebrities).

    So I think mainstream media (or mass media) is all about buzz and ads, telling people what they want to hear, and making money on ads.

    Sad but that’s how the world works, mainstream medias are controlled by few, targeting different demographic groups, to distribute the ads.

    If one wants serious stories, insights and analysis, those professional magazines and blogs are better choice. (like McKinsey distribute their magazines to top CEOs only, not for sale).

    Just my thoughts regarding mainstream media.

  3. Rich Says:

    I have to thank you for giving me a great laugh today, an article on inaccuracies where you manage to misspell “hearsay” in such a way that it reads more like “heresy” 🙂

    I’m sure the church would be even more annoyed than you about heresy being reported as fact!

  4. Ben Young Says:

    @Rich Glad to make you laugh! It’s the result of touch typing (happens all the time) – fixed up now.

  5. Wayne Attwell Says:

    Did you see the inaccuracies and subsequent embarrassing correction on Friday TV1 news about the Cameron/Tua fight?

    They stated that the promoter had agreed to a 4-round ‘no contest’ if Cameron got cut. Also said Cameron has had a bunch of fights stopped early because of cuts.

    Wrong on both counts.

  6. Bill Bennett Says:

    New Zealand’s media is already is so much financial trouble – many publications are marginal or not far off – this proposal would just about kill it off.

    Of course, that may be your intention…

  7. Ben Young Says:

    @Bill That’s definitely not my intention, this post stems from my frustration around seeing inaccuracies.

    No agenda here other than to share my idea and stimulate some discussion, is there a better way? Maybe fines aren’t the most robust model at the moment, as always keen to hear your input. -Ben

  8. Matt @ Kurb Says:

    Media drives me crazy, long since abandoned the box. Half of what I read in the paper I’ve already read a cross analysis and critique of on a credible blog.

    Isn’t our friend with the invisible hand supposed to sort this out? It’s a real worry. It’s the celeb thing that gets to me. I don’t think even teenage girls would think the amount of exposure to celebrity nonsense we get is appropriate.

    This is old media in a corner fighting for it’s life claw and tooth and I think it’s gonna get uglier.

  9. Karl Rohde Says:

    The basic premise of traditional reporting is to be objective, not subjective.

    Unfortunately, Gonzo journalism, and it’s variants, have become mainstream. Combine this with the sound-bite mentality of the modern populous, it is inevitable that a “story” rather than a “report” becomes more important.

    However, it would take a strong editor indeed to buck the trend and go back to journalistic roots of old.

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