Less than a minute into the taping of my debut on WAMC’s “The Media Project” last month, I uttered an error: I said the class I teach is part of the University at Albany’s Journalism Department. I know better. I meant to say Journalism Program.
Program, shmogram. What’s the big deal?
Just one thing: It’s wrong. The Journalism Program is part of the Communication Department.
Ninety-nine point nine nine nine percent of listeners would neither know nor care. In the scheme of media mistakes, it’s tiny.
But I believe even inadvertent, inconsequential errors chip, chip, chips away at the public’s faith in the media. People familiar with the subject they’re reading or hearing about will often spot something not quite right in the report.
I’d like to believe people realize journalists are well-intentioned, take pride in being accurate and, as humans, occasionally make mistakes. A new survey, however, casts painful doubt not just on the accuracy of the media, but the integrity of its intentions.
I blame the poll results on President Trump’s relentless, gleeful, unwarranted and dangerous aspersion of the media. But every journalist needs to be extra careful to avoid mistakes – large and small — and to promptly admit and correct the record as needed (though my misstatement on “The Media Project” will be available forever on wamc.org).
I was happy to be invited to participate on “The Media Project” again, though I’ll wait with not-so-secret dread to hear Sunday night what faux pas popped out of my mouth during this morning’s taping with Cailin Brown, Rex Smith and Alan Chartock. And you can be sure that accuracy and faith in the media will be part of the curriculum with my fall semester news writing students in UAlbany’s Journalism Depart … er, Program.