The early 1900s saw the creation of journalism schools and codes of professional ethics. Accuracy and quality reporting became more than mere marketing slogans. In 1913, the New York World created a Bureau of Accuracy and Fair Play, and with it came the first newspaper ombudsman. In 1922, the American Society of Newspaper Editors adopted its “Canons of Journalism,” a series of statements that, among other things, enshrined accuracy as a fundamental value.
The first three waves were precipitated by frequency, mass circulation, and the professionalization of journalism. Which brings me to our current, looming fourth wave, which, not surprisingly, largely results from the growth of the Internet. The fourth wave is characterized by 24/7 frequency, global unpaid circulation, a requirement that the profession evolve, and the emergence of citizen journalism.
This wave’s final impact on accuracy and quality has yet to be determined, but if history is any lesson, it will change journalism for decades to come. Interesting times indeed.
Correction of the Week
“In our article ‘Wikiworld’ (3 February 2009) we repeated several claims about Jimmy Wales, the Wikipedia founder: that he had a company that dealt in “soft porn” and was short-lived: that he had had to defend himself against “allegations from former colleagues that he used Wikipedia as a personal piggybank”: that he faced controversy over his age and “doctored his own Wikipedia entry to knock it down a couple of years: and that there had been speculation and board in-fighting about Wales’s relationship with the organisation. Jimmy Wales has pointed out that we repeated allegations which have no truth and we apologise to him for this.” – The Independent
How Newspapers Get Even
“A headline in the Feb. 13-Feb. 15 edition of 24 hours Ottawa that said Sex Assault Charges was incorrect.
“In fact, as the story reported, Robert Lacelle has been charged in connection with the theft of newspaper boxes, and the charges have nothing to do with a sex assault. 24 hours regrets the error.” – 24 Hours (Ottawa)
“DARTS champion Phil Taylor is known as ‘The Power’, not ‘The Force’.” (Page 19, February 9).—Mirror (U.K.)