The black and white of journalism

I want to preface this post by saying Vel Tech was established 15 years ago and became a deemed technical university in October 2008.

As a journalism student at UF, I prided myself in never having made a fact error. Professors would always remind us that fact errors would knock 50 points off of our papers automatically, because in real life they could cost us a lawsuit and our reputations.

That’s not to say I didn’t fall prey to the usual suspects: generalizations, style errors, grammatical mishaps, etc. After all, I was a student, and it was all a part of the learning process.But fearing the default ‘F,’ I always made sure to have my facts straight. Always.

Well, today for the first time ever, a correction appeared in the paper regarding a story I had written. In retrospect I wonder if I, incognizant of the fact myself, became complacent after sending the original copy to my source and editors for fact-checking, but a colleague wisely pointed out that because the fact error was in favor of my source, the source probably saw no need to clarify in black-and white terms. Of course.

All day a cloud of shame has hovered above my never-thought-I’d-ever-make-a-fact-error-inflated head. Right about now I’d take those 50 points off instead.

Thus I turn to my one source of relief: writing.

Some might be astonished or find me foolish for even draw attention to this blunder on my own blog. Consider this an outlet for me to release my guilt and evidence that I genuinely care about my integrity as a journalist.

So this is my promise to my readers, my sources, my editors and most of all, to myself that my first fact error will be my last. Consider it a lesson learned: there is no gray in journalism.

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