What Happened to Using Your Brain?

People make mistakes, but there have been a couple of errors in recent days that bring up the issue of how important it is for reporters to think when they are doing their job.

In reporting about the divorce of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, a radio reporter said Wednesday, May 11, that Shriver had moved out of the governor’s mansion.

Well, that’s a good thing. Current California Gov. Jerry Brown probably wouldn’t like having Shriver living in the home now that Schwarzenegger is no longer the head of that state.

A second example comes from a political event in Arizona. A newspaper reported that 50 people attended. The newspaper subsequently ran a correction to say that 100 people actually were at the event.

Good grief. When you are dealing with numbers that aren’t huge, how hard is it to count and calculate an estimate on the number of people in a room? Just count the number of rows of chairs and the number of people in each row. Really, it’s not that hard.

So, professional and citizen journalists, please use your brain when reporting the news.

Don’t just take as the gospel truth a crowd estimate offered by one person, especially if the crowd is small enough that you can come up with your own number.

And please use these examples as motivation to think and maybe even do some research before including background information in your story.

Susan Cormier is the co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” (http://www.citizenjournalistnow.com/).

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About The Author

NACJ trainer

Susan Carson Cormier is a co-founder of the National Association of Citizen Journalists and co-author of the "Handbook for Citizen Journalists." As the head coach at the NACJ, Cormier is in charge of training citizen journalists the basics in how to report and write news, sports and feature stories.

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Author his web sitehttp://www.nacj.us

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05 2011

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