Journalism 101: Get it Right.

BLOGs are partly for venting and I’m about to do it.

Let’s illustrate the sloppiness, carelessness and laziness of modern “journalism” with a prime example. First, note the fact that there is no such place as Westwood, OK.

Yet that didn’t hinder Bryan Walsh from Time in making a seemingly small but utterly inexcusable mistake that spreads Web-wide. Failures have consequences, Bryan, as I shall illustrate. Do a Google search for “Oklahoma town of Westwood” (linked here for your convenience) and see for yourself.

Here’s a screen capture that shows some of the propagational stupidity (it’s an image, so the links don’t work).



As of this writing, over three weeks after the event, none of those stories contains a same-site correction–not a single one.

Get it straight, big-media ignoramuses everywhere. The town’s name is not “Westwood”. It’s Woodward. I should repeat it so that even an East Coast city-slicker “journalist” can’t screw it up. Woodward. Woodward. Woodward. Spell it out as the imaginary ball bounces across the letters: W-o-o-d-w-a-r-d. Sing a little song in your head, if you must, to keep it straight.

Woodward is a place full of fellow Americans whose residents’ lives have been disrupted, damaged, or even lost, at the foot of a tornado that struck in the night (with warning!), and you can’t even get their town’s very simple name correct? Come on. Do better. Hey, Associated Press (last link) got it right. Even I can spell New York City, where Time, Inc., is headquartered. Surely Bryan can spell Woodward, also a name of English origin that has even fewer letters.

Furthermore, what does this say about all the BLOGS and sites that reproduce the story without checking it? Well, they’re all in doubt too, thanks to their passive laziness and sloppiness. If they’re not fact-checking this, what else are they mindlessly parroting? What other facts, topics and ideas, minor or major, are they getting wrong? These are valid questions.

Here are some of the guilty parties, by name:
Time Magazine (who started it all).
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Real Clear Science
Climate Change World
Humanist Resources
The News Tree

I believe that complaints without solutions are invalid. So here’s the solution: Journalism 101. Hey, reporter: It’s your story. Get it right. You’re paid to. It’s that simple.


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