Monday, June 14, 2010

Caught Making An Assumption

I fell into my own trap. I was sure a FBI agent in the mock disaster deadline reporting exercise today had killed someone. I was sure I would solve the mystery with my wonderful group of gals.
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.

Kellie Wagner
Hartford Journalism & Media Academy
Hartford, Conn.

1 comment:

  1. Great stories often come from such hunches. It's the hypothesis testing I mentioned in another session. Get a hunch, check it out, dump it if it doesn't pan out, move on. I thought it was a creative connection and might use it in tweaking the scenario.

    Steve Elliott
    Arizona State University