In 2008, researchers at the Cardiff School of Journalism, UK, discovered that 60 percent of the articles in British newspapers the Daily Mail, the Guardian, the Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Independent had been copied from wire reports and press announcements issued by various corporations, businesses and universities. Three out of four such stories had also gone to print without being fact-checked, a trend that seems widespread: in 2012, an audit sponsored by the European Observatory of Journalism found factual errors in approximately half of all news stories published in Switzerland, Italy and the United States, where only one in four Americans say they trust their newspapers.
The newspaper industry in the United States has shrunk by nearly half since 2000 and, in the past five years, 35,000 American newspaper employees have lost their jobs. They aren’t the only ones: UK-based news corporation Guardian News and Media has fired more than 300 employees over the past three years and, last October, workers at Israeli daily Ha’aretz went on strike because 100 posts were to be cut. But in some places, journalists may find a richer future: across Africa, for example, newspaper circulation rose by more than 30 percent between 2004 and 2009, while the Times of India now boasts the highest circulation of any English-language newspaper in the world.
According to an internal memo, in 2005, BBC News Interactive journalists were expected to write a one-line ticker of breaking news, compose a four-paragraph article, and fact-check everything in five minutes. In 2008, the Columbia Journalism Review reported that some writers at US-based Bloomberg News were afraid to stop typing for more than 15 minutes, for fear of a rumored electronic monitoring system. But the rush to file a story can lead you straight into fiction: when US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in January 2011, national news networks NPR, Fox, CBS and CNN all pronounced her dead within the hour. But she survived, and so did the reputation of wire agency Associated Press, which tweeted: “Let the record show that @AP did not report that Rep. #Giffords was slain. Thanks.”
From the pages of COLORS #86 - Making the News.