False Accusations and Media Ethics

A group comprised of educators at all levels were engaged in a robust discussion on LinkedIn on the topic of false accusations, inaccurate reporting and the devastating negative impact such false accusations have on the accused, even when the accusations were recounted.  They believe that there seems to be a proliferation of such accusations in the field of education.

The following  is my contribution to the discussion.

False accusations and misrepresentation of one’s character should be discouraged by all leaders in any field. The media has a big role in perpetuating and sensationalizing gossip and unfounded or unverified information as was recently exemplified by the Rolling Stone magazine’s apology for printing one side of a story without the due investigatory diligence that encompasses contacting all involved parties prior to printing the information. As consumers of all forms of media, all of us are responsible for holding the media accountable for the information they print by asking the reporters if the information was verified. Bloggers should not blog about any news until they have verified the information as well because blogs keeps the unverified rumor alive. Citizens should have a right to ask Google and all search engines to remove negative and unverified information from the web. The United Kingdom has an established process to request the removal of negative information from the web’s search engines. United States and other countries should follow suit. Otherwise, the media continues to wield too much power, and to invade the privacy of everyday citizens.

Lessons in Factual Reporting, Rolling Stone Apology, Media Ethics

There have been many newspaper articles, news reports and blogs on the subject of the Rolling Stone magazine’s apology for publishing information about an alleged sexual assault at the University of Virginia (UVA) without a thorough fact-finding exercise, and without contacting the alleged perpetrators. Some people blame the accuser, others blame the magazine and the media, while some are somewhere in between. There are those who believe that there has been a lapse in good journalism by some reporters and their sponsor news organizations who print information and innuendos gathered from one source without doing the due diligence of reaching out to the other parties involved in order to conduct adequate fact-finding. Once something is printed, the nuances remain even after a retraction or correction has been made by the reporter. Sexual assault advocates are angry that this apology will deter future reporting of assaults.

It is very critical to note that victims of assault should always report the assault.

I would like to highlight the article that resonated with me which looked at the events through the eyes of UVA student journalists who not only have to report the story, but live on the same campus daily. What lessons are student reporters learning about the profession they plan to work in? The editor-in-chief of  The Cavalier Daily, a student run news outlet at UVA, Rebecca Lim stated that the coverage is part of the students’ daily lives. She said, “We’re reporting on the community that we’re very much a part of. If you take the reporter hat off, at the end of the day you’re a student at the university.”

Here is “What UVA journalists take away from Rolling Stone apology”