Reality Check w/ John Tracy: Everyone sees your mistakes in journalism
Imagine if everyone had a chance to witness every mistake you’ve made on your job.
Journalism is like that.
Over 23 years on the air, I made more than my share of mistakes. Probably the worst was when we ran a breaking story about the untimely death of an Anchorage assemblyman.
I apologize to Larry Baker every time I see him.
Some mistakes are made under the crush of deadlines. Others, there is no way to see them coming. For example, when a reporter goes rogue and intentionally breaks every rule of journalism.
In the print world, there has never been any way to take back a lapse in judgment. Headline writers seem to have it the worst. There are the unfortunate misspellings. Stating the obvious. Or missing the unintended entendre.
Last Thursday, the Alaska Dispatch News published a photo on the front page of the Play section that caught me by surprise. It’s a playful photo of band members apparently giving their lead guitarist a one-finger salute.
Alaska Dispatch Managing Editor David Hulen says it was unintended and the editor it got past was mortified.
Yet he points out, they only got a couple of complaints about it. So that lack of reaction may say more about us than it does about the newspaper. Maybe the photo’s not that provocative compared to what we’re exposed to online on a daily basis.
More likely not many people saw it. Last Thursday was one of those days we were more likely to unfold a deck chair than a newspaper.
Journalism can be messy. Mistakes happen. I almost feel bad for bringing it up but then it’s not like they offed Larry Baker.
Really, really sorry about that Larry.
John’s opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of Denali Media or its employees.
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