The only problem is that this was not an episode of Law & Order. This was an exercise in reporting the truth -- facts that can be proven. And I fell hard for an assumption.
As Steve Elliott pointed out today "Don't report on assumptions. Rely on facts."
And even though Steve pointed out that this could be hard to do for reporters, I still felt I should have know better. I do know better. So how is it that I can
teach my students about not being biased, not to make assumptions and to always check their facts but I did not follow my own teachings?
I guess I forgot what it was like to be in the business as a reporter, after all it has been six years since I was "in the field." And although I did ask many great questions and worked well with my team, I got caught up in the excitement of the competition. I should have focused a bit better and looked for my facts and I would have found out that the main story was not about a FBI agent turned killer, or a mobster who whacked his accountant, but rather a janitor who may have ignited a fire because he was smoking too close to expired propellants in his storage closet.
Well as they say the truth shall set you free.
Hartford Journalism & Media Academy