Monday, November 23, 2009

Well, this is interesting

Through the miracle of the Intertubes (at Wonkette, via Talking Points, crediting FishBowlDC) comes news that certain practices are going to have to stop at certain fair 'n' balanced networks. Specifically, that'll be errors -- which, as the document says, "can fall through the cracks on any day" but do draw unwelcome attention when they start to pile up, as they have been at Fox of late:

Effective immediately, there is zero tolerance for on-screen errors. Mistakes by any member of the show team that end up on air may result in immediate disciplinary action against those who played significant roles in the "mistake chain," and those who supervise them. That may include warning letters to personnel files, suspensions, and other possible actions up to and including termination, and this will all obviously play a role in performance reviews.

We're all for accuracy in these parts. Still, you don't want to gloat at the thought of people being fired for errors unless you're confident you're never going to produce one again. That's errors, as in honest mistakes; as a general rule, dishonesty is a firing offense, but cluelessness isn't. I wouldn't fire the guy who put a (D) after Mark Sanford's name, partly because I used to work with a pretty good reporter who had the bad habit of occasionally going on autopilot and putting "D-N.C." after Jesse Helms's name. I'd like to see the baseline level of editing improve at Fox, but I doubt a hunt for "errors" is going to root out the deliberate offenses against -- for example -- survey data. (And no, I don't think the video cookery involving the rallies was accidental; I won't object if heads roll for that, as long as nobody tries to get away with blaming the copydesk again.)

Anyway, can't wait to see how this new reverence for accuracy plays out in the online product.



Blogger John Cowan said...

When I worked for Reuters Health, I put together a system that tagged any mentions of particular medication in stories with a link to a web page about that med. Unfortunately, recombinant protective antigen had to be removed from the drug list, because its standard abbreviation "r-PA" matched in places like "Arlen Specter (R-PA)".

10:03 PM, November 23, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone actually understand the internal workings of the Fox empire? How high (or low) on the management chain are Fox News (TV), Fox News Radio, and Fox News (Web site) under common management? What sort of editorial staff do they share (if any)? (FWIW, Fox News Radio is syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks/Clear Channel, but I don't know what their operating agreement with Murdoch looks like or how much news content they actually share.)

11:12 PM, November 23, 2009  
Anonymous rayb said...

Maybe after being bitten by zero tolerance, the Fox crowd might tumble to how bad it works. They gonna fire somebody for saying they "exited stage left" when it was actually to the right?

11:34 PM, November 23, 2009  

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