The Importance of Accuracy and Grammar

The facts of the story oftentimes ARE the story. What happens in the world is the basis of news media and it is their job to report these events to the general public. Naturally, this means that accuracy is one of the more important parts of their writing. If a paper, website, or program errors in reporting what actually happened, it can distort events and color people’s opinions unfairly. The truth should always be clear and so should the language used to report it. If a story has poor grammar then there is a higher chance something will be misunderstood. On top of that, a story with high quality grammar is just all around easier and more satisfying to read. Both of these points should be of the highest consideration when putting together a news article.

Fact checking should be done first as often as possible given that the research that is done for a story will form the basis of everything you write. Getting sources is the first step to that and it smart to travel as far back to the original as possible. As Steve Buttry puts it, “The person you’re talking to may be mistaken or lying or not remember the complete story. Asking “How do you know that?” helps you find the best source for the information.” First hand sources are always superior to second or third hand. But even if the source used IS first hand, there should always be more than one. A single person or other piece of information is likely going to be colored by many different factors and having a larger basis for facts will make it easier to figure out what really happened.

When the facts are gathered, it is vital that they be told as accurately as possible. This includes names of the people involved, dates, locations, numbers, and any specific technical matters such as laws or scientific research. All of these should be double-checked at least once to make sure nothing is being reported falsely. Any mistake on the author’s part could mislead the audience and a misquoted or misreported source is not likely to be happy with the error. Journalism is the delivery system of current events to the people and it is crucial those events are correct.

Which is why clear correct grammar can make or break an article. Having the right facts and the right context are infinitely important, but pains should always be taken to make sure they are presented correctly. Always ask the person appearing in the piece how to spell their name and write it down. Correct spelling and use of names and places is key to giving a clear picture of the events involved. Good punctuation and sentence structure can set a good pace within the piece for narrative flow. White Smoke is rather forceful about this, but the blunt phrasing reflects the needed mindset. “Newspaper articles have to be clearly written. All names have to be spelled correctly, all facts need to be checked and re-checked, and every quote needs to be verified with the source, too.”

The proper facts are the backbone of news and a good chunk of its purpose. An article must be as accurate as possible if it is going to be distributed to the general public, especially when representing a major paper. And the facts it reports should be presented clearly enough for a majority of the audience to understand without any trouble. To that end, the importance of proper information gathering and correct grammar cannot be stated enough and should always be an early consideration.

Bibliography

http://stevebuttry.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/tips-on-verifying-facts-and-ensuring-accuracy/

http://www.mediahelpingmedia.org/training-resources/editorial-ethics/237-the-importance-of-accuracy-in-journalism

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/italics.htm

http://www.whitesmoke.com/how-to-write-a-newspaper-article.html

http://www.dailyindependent.com/news/lana-bellamy-do-your-own-fact-checking/article_7fe49136-4da5-11e4-a0ef-1bce6b727c27.html

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