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I excuse nobody, but I would like to put in a word for news journalists and stringers out in the field. Under immense pressure to file copy to deadlines, there is usually little time, even with a major incident, to do more than ask questions - if allowed - at press conferences, buttonhole anybody relevant for quotes, get a few vox pops and that's it. No time to check facts or do background - though many use wikipedia and the usual tools when they can.

Their copy is filed and it goes into the system that styles the copy, which means styling that the sub-editors think will sell to their readers - and not annoy the advertisers. The subs write headlines and cross headings. Then it will run past the lawyers if there might be anything contentious.

You've seen in movies the relentless reporters chasing a big story, following up every lead. That only happens on the investigative side of journalism. It is not a freedom that a daily news journalist knows.

And remember, when journalists go to a news story, they have an incomplete picture.  So they rely on the 'who, what, where, when and how' basic questions. If they manage to answer all those before the copy must be filed, they have done well.

All I am saying is that the vast majority of field news journalists are struggling to do a good honest job, and to serve their readers, not the advertisers.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Sep 13th, 2012 at 11:54:04 AM EST

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