Seek truth and report it is the prime directive of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics. And one of the basic conditions of reporting truth is to be sure you are accurate.
For a multimedia journalist, producing a story on his or her own, getting it right is just as important, but tougher to accomplish.
Jacqueline Ingles calls herself a multi-platform, one-woman band reporting at KXAN in Austin, Tex. She knows that working across platforms means meeting a tougher standard.
Not only do I have to present fair and accurate pieces on air, my online pieces must be as clean and grammatically correct as a newspaper writer’s article. I have been called out many times by readers for placing a period where there should be a semicolon. It may not seem like a big deal, but viewers and readers do not know you are juggling eight balls in the air. You also took on the job of juggling those balls, so do it right. They expect quality out of their journalists, and it is your job to deliver.
Ingles wrote an article for Quill, which included a list of suggestions for those working as solo journalists — here are some of my favorites:
- Write your online script, walk away for 10 minutes, come back and re-read what you wrote before hitting PUBLISH.
- Call your superiors if you need more time to get your story ready. Never rush to the Web or to air.
- Steal natural sound from one piece of b-roll and place it under other video. This is unethical, and you are lying to your viewer.
- Blame all you have to do in a day for errors online or on TV. You took on this job and you must make it work.
- Think reporting is all about you. If you have to sacrifice looking good on TV for a better story, drop the makeup and hair curler and get to work.