Get it first, or get it right?

leann pettit

On Sept. 11, 2009, CNN reported that there had apparently been shots fired over the Potomac River towards the Pentagon, where President Obama was giving a speech in commemoration of the day.

When CNN reported the incident they reported that the "Coast Guard Command Center said it had no immediate information."

With today's 24-hour news channels and constant media updates, the 24-hour news networks have gotten into a "get it first" mentality.

Unfortunately, getting the story first doesn't always mean getting it right.

The 24-hour news channels have allowed Americans to get the news whenever they want it, however, it has also produced competition between the big cable news channels and a lowering of journalistic standards.

The events of Sept. 11, 2009 are not the first time that a news network has reported a story prior to fact checking.

"TMZ may well not be the most credible source ... and there's a possibility they just went with the story of [Michael] Jackson dying as fact before it really was... They called it first, and they got it right," wrote Robin Wauters for's article "Mainstream Media Still has Eyes Wide Shut."

In a book entitled "Democracy and the Media: a comparative perspective" authors Richard Gunther and Anthony Mughan make the claim that journalistic standards have decreased because investigative journalism requires "time and knowledge that journalists do not routinely possess."

In a study released Sunday, Sept. 13 by Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, showed a sharp decline in the public trust of news media.

The last study showed 53 percent of respondents expressed doubt in the news media. In the recently released study, 63 percent of respondents questioned the accuracy of their news media.

The biggest problem in news media is the financial cutbacks. Newspapers are losing readers and subscribers to the Internet.

In an article by the Associated Press "Poll: News media's credibility plunges to new low" by Michael Liedtke said, "Newspaper ad sales plunged by 29 percent, or nearly $5.5 billion, during the first half of this year, according to the Newspaper Association of America."

In the same article, Bill Keller, executive editor at The New York Times said due to budget decreases at newspapers "facts don't get checked as carefully as they should."

Not only are the financial cuts a proponent of faulty journalism, but the speed at which news organizations, especially 24 hour news networks, are trying to produce the news. The increased speed of the news cycle makes it difficult to validate a claim, said Gunther and Mughan.

In between the high speed news cycle and budget cuts are advertisers. The main purpose of all 24 hour news networks is to draw a large viewing audience to their media for their advertisers.

To draw in a larger audience, the news media runs the coverage that will draw the most viewers. There has long been a notion in the news media that "bad news makes for good news." Since 1960, bad news has been escalating in coverage in news media.

Bad or negative news is easier to produce and requires less time on the reporters' end.

It is also easier to continue to create news from bad news because there are follow up stories as the incident fleshes itself out.

However, as David Folkenflick, NPR's media correspondent, stated on The Power of the 24-Hour News Cycle, "... When crisis happens, [cable news] have the knowledge and ability to go places and to have voices of the place, not simply somebody in London narrating something that they had feed from some remote freelancer of a freelancer. And I think that's valuable. They've kind of served as a broadcast wire service in that way."

Due to the increased speed of the news cycle, Folkenflick also said, "You see newspapers and networks covering things that they might not have done."

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