THE SAM MORSHEAD COLUMN: Speed over accuracy is the curse of modern journalism (From Swindon Advertiser)
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THE SAM MORSHEAD COLUMN: Speed over accuracy is the curse of modern journalism
6:00am Saturday 26th January 2013 in Sport
AS IS the case in any walk of life, journalism has had to adapt to its ever-changing environment.
But instead of evolving over time, has our industry slipped into devolution?
Whereas in years gone by journalistic Darwinism meant the fittest was generally considered most reliable and most accurate, in the modern world speed gets you to the top of the food chain.
Strangely, being first is now better than being best. The industry drags itself into this endless cycle voluntarily. Rolling 24-hour news channels and the incessant online demand for information mean newspapers, radio stations and TV channels are happy to serve up morsels of information sporadically rather than a much more satisfying dollop at a scheduled time.
It’s the diet we, both in this country and globally, have got used to but it’s not the healthiest option. Forget the Paleo lifestyle, this is more “Supersize Me”.
Of course, getting the scoop on a colleague is the badge of honour in the written and broadcast media communities. If your contacts are better than anyone else’s and you’re willing to dig that little bit deeper, then more often than not you’ll end up with the story before the rest of the chasing press pack. But there’s a flip side.
There are social responsibilities and etiquette which can easily be forgotten in the pursuit of a tale that can have ‘exclusive’ stamped in embossed red letters at the top of the page.
I hasten to add that I’m not distancing myself from this practice, it is unfortunately what a large part of journalism has become, but that does not mean that I agree with it.
In the past seven days we’ve seen how inaccuracies in our digital age carry all the characteristics of a blazing wildfire. They spread aggressively and unforgivingly across the savannahs of cyberspace, burning the truth and leaving behind an ungodly mess.
When established media outlets abandon all sense of responsibility and dive in with wild accusations it only gives the foolish and the devious a platform from which to spit their unfounded and incendiary bile.
Last week it was reported that the Swindon Town board had considered administration as an option as they look to sell the club.
Every aspect of that sentence was correct. It has been mentioned in board meetings as a worst-case scenario. Even if the eventuality isn’t being actively contemplated right now, it had previously been considered.
So how on earth did that one line last Thursday morning end with charges of financial doping and unpaid bills levelled against the club in a national paper?
How on earth did a radio DJ with an audience of many, many thousands feel it right to brand Town cheats on Twitter?
We all get things wrong from time to time, we all make mistakes. I have, you have, your mother’s brother’s dog has. But there are times and places where those errors are understandable, and these instances were neither.
I don’t think journalism will ever revert back to its old self and the media in general, though it does untold good, will always be stuck with a demonic reputation.
Moments like the aforementioned are the ones the public remember. It’s where the reckless few tarnish the name of the responsible masses.
But maybe, just maybe, if being the best really meant being the best once more, MAYBE opinions could change.
SYMPATHY FOR HAZARD
UNTIL Tuesday night, I never thought Eden Hazard and I were likely to have anything in common.
How refreshing it was to discover our shared hatred of ball boys. I can’t stand the little b*****s.
They get into grounds for free, wander around the edge of the pitch as if they own the place and then when it’s actually time for them to do their job they trip over advertising hoardings, search five rows above where the ball actually landed and intercept the damn thing when it’s thrown neatly from the crowd back onto the pitch.
So, when one of these half-pinters took it upon himself to prevent Hazard from collecting the ball in the dying stages of the Capital One Cup semi-final on Tuesday night, I was fully on the Belgian’s side.
It’s not like Hazard was deliberately aiming a strong right foot to the kid’s ribs, was it?
Only the unbelievably thick would try to assault a minor in front of 25,000 witnesses and Chris Foy.
In fact, the “kid” whose delaying tactics caused the bizarre incident at the Liberty Stadium wasn’t even a “kid” - if his Twitter profile picture, which has him gleefully holding a can of grog, is anything to go by.
He didn’t need a magic sponge to the tummy before he felt right as rain either. What has the game come to when teenage ball boys are faking injury to get a player sent off?
Once again we’ve let ourselves get carried away. I’m inclined to blame Luis Suarez.