Manuel Ozaeta, Consultant
Last month’s Supreme Court decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was one of the most highly anticipated decisions to come this year from the highest court of the land. The President, congressional lawmakers, and curious and concerned citizens anxiously waited that Thursday morning to hear some answers related to the law’s fate.
As the decision was released to various media outlets and analysts began to explain the effects of the court’s judgment, both CNN and FOX News incorrectly reported that the individual mandate provision of the law had been struck down. It had also been reported that President Obama was watching the news coverage of his signature legislative achievement on dual television monitors tuned to, you guessed it, CNN and FOX News.
Both the President and the viewing public would be surprised a few minutes later when those same outlets would do a turnabout and report that the mandate had actually been upheld via a tax provision. In their haste to be the first to report, they initially got it wrong. No matter whether you were in favor or opposition of the PPACA, the inaccuracies by the media should bother you.
As keepers of the fourth estate, journalists must hold back on the instinct to report immediately, instead as professionals, they must be aware that accuracy is paramount. Often people will forget who reported it first, but they will not forget who got it wrong. In truth, one of the most important rules in journalism is to simply get the facts right. Double check those facts, and check again.
Ronald Reagan was know for saying, “Trust, but verify.” The media used to be our verification source, but increasingly in this age of hyper-media consumerism, that is not the case. The internet has increased our access to information in a very positive way but it has also turned us into impatient readers with a “I need to know now” mentality. As influential players, it is the major networks responsibility to inform with accuracy, not with expedited falsehoods.
An honest reporting mistake can be forgiven if it happens infrequently, but credibility is only given with consistency. I’ll still be watching CNN and FOX News, but I will do so cautiously.
For a screenshot of what was posted on CNN and Fox News website on June 28th, click here: https:///slate.me/LRnqyn