Accuracy and Human Error

Accuracy is of the utmost importance in journalism. It is a lesson instilled into us in this course, and it is crucial in creating and maintaining credibility in the industry. While naturally, errors are part of being human, they must be minimized and owned up to when committed. This is what impressed me about most about ESPN. As the world’s leader in sports coverage—I love sports too much to not write about it—ESPN prides itself on its ability to break news, and do so accurately. In a quote from their site’s correction page, they discuss this need to keep errors in check: “At ESPN, our reputation and credibility with viewers, readers and listeners are of a paramount concern. While our goal is always to be accurate and fair, occasionally we will present an erroneous assertion of fact. Significant errors of fact will be corrected in a clear and timely manner; with appropriate prominence . . . Mistakes are inevitable. A meaningful policy for correcting significant errors will engender trust with viewers, listeners and readers. ESPN’s willingness to correct mistakes, as necessary, is directly proportional to our credibility with our audiences.” I respect the stance they take here. They admit to the faults of being human, but strive to attain credibility with their audience by being open about their mistakes and moving quickly to correct them when one is committed. This is the stance every company should take. Errors are made more serious, and credibility takes a much larger hit, when reporters are deceptive about their mistakes, trying to cover them up. The open stance allows ESPN to look more credible as they publicly admit and acknowledge their mistakes.

Michael Fiez

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