7 techniques to help journalists get it right

Once a reporter starts writing a story, you might feel accuracy is out of your hands. But these tactics can help.

The news must have shocked readers of the Morning Bulletin in Queensland, Australia. A story quoted a farmer who was lamenting that floods had swept 30,000 pigs down the Dawson River.

The paper was forced to revisit the matter in a correction. The Dawson turned out not to have been choked with desperately paddling swine.

The pig owner had actually said, “30 sows and pigs,” not “30,000 pigs.”

The example was funny enough to rate a mention in a speech by the provincial premier. But it’s the kind of goof that might make corporate communicators and reporters alike want to spit over their left shoulder to ward off the devil. People on both sides of the interview desk usually strive for accuracy.

Mistakes happen, as the site Regret the Error shows. But how can a corporate or government communicator help prevent them?

I have been a reporter for 25 years, and I also have been interviewed on many occasions. There is no sure-fire way to make sure somebody else gets your story right. But you can avoid tripping up a reporter who’s sprinting toward deadline. Here are some hints:

Return calls promptly

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.