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A danger to readers: the pressure to break news and its affect on accuracy

For most journalists, including those of the New York Times and National Public Radio (NPR), the goal of putting out content and information is to help inform and educate the public—with an “impartial” view. This common goal requires that a set of ethics be closely followed for most outlets.

As stated in their guiding principles, NPR says, “Our news content, whether on the radio, on the web, or in any other form, must attain the highest quality and strengthen our credibility. We take pride in our craft. Our journalism is as accurate, fair and complete as possible. Our journalists conduct their work with honesty and respect, and they strive to be both independent and impartial in their efforts. Our methods are transparent and we will be accountable for all we do.”

Those two organizations, both regarded as credible by society, face a challenge that all newspapers, magazines, television channels, radio stations and other outlets also deal with every day. Gaining a following and a loyal audience is something that every source covets.

To gain this following, news organizations strive to put out the most recent and most enticing content as quickly as possible. Interesting headlines sell and right now, sales are a point that are priority.

In this age, the building and maintaining of a following is becoming more difficult. Two short years ago, on March 26, 2014, Pew Research Center released a study on the state of the media. The circulation and sale of print sources has declined over the last few years and continues to do so in a digital age. For news magazines, the total decline in sales (until 2013), was 11%. For magazines, newspapers and other sources alike.


Image from: Pew Research Center

On top of the need of trying to gain loyal readers, the decrease in news consumption through print and television sources (11% drop in 2013 for all cable networks and a deep drop of 15.5% at MSNBC in 2013 too), creates pressure too. Some organizations are falling out completely in the digital age, Al Jazeera America signed off for the last time just last night, after operating for only three years.

Alison Collins, a third-year student at Loyola University Maryland, says that she gets her news from Twitter and the New York Times iPhone app. When Collins reads a news story, even a story regarding breaking news or a story that seems to need follow up, she reads only one version. In reflection, she calls that “selective exposure.”

The nation’s readers are becoming more isolated to a “reliable source” and less focused.

Following this mindset, news organizations seek to publish breaking news as quickly as possible while also releasing riveting feature stories. While doing so, in this digital age, the idea of “clicks” has become more important. Flashy but not necessarily accurate, headlines are increasingly common, as are short– and some long– stories that lack significant research.

The strain of breaking a news story can affect the accuracy of the information relayed– particularly in the digital age. One of the news industry’s most competitive points is speed, releasing a story first can be an enticing quality for a news organization. Despite the importance of accuracy, writers and editors can often be swept up in this need for speed and miss important details that can change the meaning of a story and its impact.

Breaking news is something that can be easily reported with misinformation—however, it can also be more easily followed up by a correction or update. Supposedly deeply researched form feature pieces, though, have also been released without proper fact checking. Even though the story form is longer and more thorough, editors’ often feel the need to release a shocking story before any other writer can get their hands on it.

The inaccuracies as a result of such pressures can be very dangerous for readers that are not stopping to think critically about an event or story. The issues with veracity that can occur are common enough that Reuters held a panel with Online News Association UK in 2014 on how digital journalists balance speed and accuracy. The panel was held in accordance to the Online News Association’s goal to “inspire excellence” among its journalists.

Following repeated occurrences of inaccuracy in journalism, such panels seem to be a necessity.

On November 19, 2014, an article by Sabrina Rubin Erdely (a journalist for Rolling Stone who has not tweeted or appeared to have written since late November 2014) was published in Rolling Stone regarding a rape case at the University of Virginia.

In Erdely’s version, a girl named Jackie (her identity was kept a secret for her own protection) was raped and assaulted by 7 brothers after being taken to a date party at the “upper-tier” frat Phi Kappa Psi. Over time, holes were discovered in her story. The Washington Post released a story shortly after the original “A Rape on Campus” revealing certain aspects of her process of piecing together the manner in which she gathered information for the story.

In the Washington Post’s article “Sabrina Rubin Erdely, woman behind Rolling Stone’s explosive U-Va. alleged rape story” the author, Paul Farhi, notes that Erdely knew that she wanted to write about campus rape but that she did not know which university would fit the description she was looking for. When entering a story with an aim, it is impossible for an author to remain unbiased– Erdely’s first fault.

Farhi also says that certain details included in Erdely’s article may have been alleged or only according to Jackie, the victim, but are written as facts. Additionally, Erdely claims that she could not confirm that she knew the names of Jackie’s attackers and that Jackie was thrilled to speak with her, despite her refusal after the release of the story to speak to other media personnel.

Following the release of the Post’s article, Rolling Stone made the decision to look outside their paper for closure and confirmation on the veracity of Erdely’s story. Will Dana, managing editor of Rolling Stone, released a statement above their findings.

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Dana was not the first editor to have experienced the frustration and pain that comes from the dishonesty of a reporter and personal neglect to fact check what appears to be an amazing story.

In late 1980, the Washington Post itself released a story called “Jimmy’s World” by Janet Cooke, a rising reporter . Similarly to Erdely at Rolling Stone, Cooke was not questioned by editor Bob Woodward or other employees of the Post.

With sources that were exclusive and victims, like Erdely’s “Jackie” and Cooke’s “Jimmy”, editors have to place trust in their reporters for the protection of a source. However, with such extraneous stories, it would be beneficial for editors to be a bit more skeptical. The desire to publish stories that seem so rare often seems to outweigh the need to take the time to verify information– often leading to consequence.

Benjamin Bradlee, then-executive editor of the Washington Post made said in April 1981 that “We’ve got to be sure that our trust in reporters is not betrayed again and in five days, I’m not sure how to do that. She was a one-in-a-million liar,” in regard to Cooke.

Trusting a reporter is a difficult line to walk for editors that feel the need to break news or a story as quickly as possible but one that must be taken more seriously than it has in the past.

Both Cooke and Erdely’s stories held national impacts. The impacts of “A Rape on Campus” is still having an effect on the University of Virginia and society today. Both also dealt with hot and sensitive topics– making them more appealing to publish and giving them a greater impact. However, that appeal must be toed with suspicion, after all, it is dangerous to release information that can be understandably immediately accepted as true by the public and have the ability create a national dialogue.

With today’s audiences skipping their own research, trusting Twitter and singular sources, it is more important than ever to ensure the accuracy of an article before clicking publish, especially with how easy it is for just anyone to release information instantaneously. It is important that well-respected and verified organizations take a moment to pause before submitting to the pressure of the increasingly speedy news turnover, in the name of protecting validity.


Press Release


Buddy Track Returns for 5th Season

Deep River, Connecticut- March 23, 2016- Buddy Track, a program for high school and middle school aged students to partner with special needs athletes, returns for its 5th annual season this May at Valley Regional High School (VRHS).

The four-session event is sure to expand and include even more stations according to John Caprizio, VRHS senior and current organizer of the program.

John Caprezio took over the program two years ago after its founder Meghan Hint left for college. Throughout the last four years the program has seen sessions that meet only three times per season and each year an increase in athletes and buddies.

“This year, we will expand the program to include a high jump station in addition to hurdles, sprints, relay race, shot put and long jump,” said Caprezio. “We also will be opening registration to Clinton and Old Saybrook so that more members of our shoreline community can have an opportunity to participate.

Caprezio believes these are positive steps forward for the volunteer-based program. He noted that though he thinks the expansion will be a great move for this year, he is going to try to organize another location for a stem-off program with next year’s organizer, Danny Richards, a current sophomore at the high school.

Members of the local community have been pleased with Buddy Track’s continuation over the last four years.

“Meghan started something great,” said Elizabeth Bish, “My son Pat, he can’t wait to come up here for Buddy Track, it’s his favorite sport and it helps him practice for the Special Olympics which are later that month.”

Pat even donated to Buddy Track with the proceeds from his homemade soaps that he sells in the hardware store.

Those that would like to sign up as a buddy or an athlete can visit the Deep River Town Hall to pick up a waiver.


Maria Henderson

877 Main Street, Deep River, CT

(555) 562-5555





Photos by : Laura Matesky

Cristina Del Sesto: Development of Documented Culture at the National Gallery

Cristina Del Sesto, working mother of one, wearing a powerful pantsuit and a contagious smile, is what some may call a woman of the world.

With her work ethic and world experience, Del Sesto leads the National Gallery of Art into partnerships with large corporations that help support its continued success, on its 75th anniversary this year. Currently, Del Sesto works as the deputy corporate relations officer at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. It is her job to convince companies to invest in the museum and to sponsor an exhibit. Through this position, Del Sesto helps to preserve a form of historical narrative that art provides for our world.

“Almost everyday is filled with rejection because I’m asking for money from companies and you can’t get a yes every time,” said Del Sesto. “Most of development work is a lot of rejection.”

She does not think though, that that type of environment is necessarily negative—especially since some level of rejection is present in all career paths.

“I think that you can learn a lot from rejection, maybe more than what you can learn from something that happens very easily,” she explained.

Before her time working in development, Del Sesto worked in a couple different environments.

“I had a long career in the corporate world,” she said. “This is my first development job I don’t have a lot of experience in non-profit.”

There are many components and skills that contribute to her work in development, that her prior experience at an internationally based business development company, as a freelance consultant and in other positions, helped her pick up.

During the earlier part of her career, Del Sesto worked for the Washington Post. Del Sesto started out as a runner at the Washington Post a week before graduating from Georgetown University. She also worked as a freelance and on staff writer for the paper.

It may not be expected that all those careers could intertwine but Del Sesto sees a connection.

Each day at work she begins by reading the latest headlines and researching, like one may research an interviewee, before entering an informational meeting in which she would need to convince a company, such as Faber-Castell—which is sponsoring the National Gallery’s Sketching is Seeing event—to sponsor an exhibit at the gallery.

“I think there is a relationship to journalism here—journalism has changed so much—but you can apply the rules of journalism to almost every single industry—everything you do,” she said. “What my task is, is to figure out what or which companies it would make sense for them to sponsor at the National Gallery. I do a lot of my research myself because, you’re developing a story in your head while you do research, but you do have other people researching as well.”

Her professional background is not the only factor that helps her succeed in her current occupation. One of her greatest hobbies, travel, has helped her along as well.

“I think all travel is important. It doesn’t matter where you are going,” said Del Sesto. “It’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey.”

With her love for travel and change, Del Sesto said that she sometimes misses the pace of journalism and has had to slow down for her new position in development for a non-profit. She also said that she is never comfortable in one place for too long. However, the reduced pace for the non-profit world is worth bending for Del Sesto because of her belief that art is so important.

“It is an incredible resource and I feel that art is that important. If you look at it through world history first thing a terrible leader does is destroy the art, art is always the target,” said Del Sesto. “It is civilization. It is what makes us human it expresses our humanity our ideas.”

The National Gallery will commemorate its 75-year anniversary through both March and April with different events. 75 Years/75 Stories will be held April 1 through April 3 and will consist of gallery talks led by museum experts and curators. Additionally, Sketching is Seeing will be held from March 25 through April 24 and a concert weekend will be hosted March 17 through March 20.

Photo by: Benjamin Reiser


Crenushe launches GUSA executive ticket

Georgetown University Student Association’s  (GUSA) election season is now in full swing with Enushe Khan (current GUSA speaker of the senate) and Chris Fisk (GUSA deputy of chief) are running for president and vice president positions, respectively.

The pair launched their campaign on the night of February 4, with a rally in Red Square, where 50 of their supporters gathered to help them announce their ticket. According to The Hoya, the “Crenushe” ticket is one of the largest in Georgetown history with over 200 supporters at the time of launch.

With the tagline “Breaking Barriers” the candidates entered Red Square to Don Omar’s “Danza Kuduro” and completed their proclamation with a light show.

The Crenushe executive ticket is currently running unopposed, and has announced many of its policies and major goals over the last week and a half. They are looking to “break barriers and build bridges in our community so we can engage and learn from one another” according to the ticket’s Twitter bio. To complete this mission, the duo and its team has suggested reforms in many areas including in Georgetown’s dining and auxiliary  services.


Despite well laid-out plans and a strong, unopposed campaign, Crenushe is facing some backlash from different media outlets on campus, such as the Georgetown Academy. The Academy, like The Hoya before it, commented on Khan’s summer obligations, which include an internship at Goldman Sachs, leaving her unable to complete certain administrative roles that the GUSA president is required to fulfill.
For more information on their campaign, visit Crenushe’s Twitter account or watch their “Tinder Ad”.
(Sam Granville’s video will be emailed separately, had trouble embedding the file.)

Puppy Bowl XII (cuter version of the Super Bowl)

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Early in the afternoon on February 7, two ferocious teams did justice for the Super [Human] Bowl 50’s equally daunting opponents, the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos, in a preview competition.

Fans all around the world of human and canine variety tuned in for the big game. Those particularly interested even had the opportunity to participate in a fantasy game, similar to Fantasy Football, run by ESPN each NFL season.

The Puppy Bowl, which promotes puppy adoption, kicked off at 3 pm Eastern Standard Time and the ongoing rivalry between teams Fluff and Ruff continued for the 12th year running on Animal Planet.

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Both teams came out strong in the 19 by 10 foot stadium where the shelter pups competed for puppy touchdowns. However, team Ruff prevailed, led by puppy Star, to victory. Star came out of Puppy Bowl XII as the MVP. She was awarded rightfully so, with her all-star performance topped with her double puppy touch down which was the first in Puppy Bowl history according to SB Nation.

The Puppy Bowl’s halftime show rivaled the performance of Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars as they promoted love at Super Bowl 50, with the attack of the ferocious kittens.

In relation to puppies and today’s largest television event, one of the strangest, actually horrifying commercials of Super Bowl 50, according to the Huffington Post was Mountain Dew’s “PuppyMonkeyBaby” commercial.

Heinz also ran a commercial with puppies, as many big brands often do. It makes sense, because truly, who can resist a cute little guy like Star and her buddies that played in the Puppy Bowl?

The big game stirred up a great deal of attention on social media, including Twitter, where several fans noted their desire to be involved in one of the most famous, and undoubtedly the cutest event associated with the Super Bowl.

Unfortunately, since the puppies can only be between 12 and 21 weeks old to participate, there can be no repeat-MVPs or winners. However, this is not the case in the Human Bowl, where players like Peyton Manning, quarterback for the Broncos, who, with tonight’s win, has acquired two Super Bowl rings and 200 career victories.

A different, everlasting type of victory, came though, for the Puppy Bowl participants and their pooch peers as adoption searches rose while the event aired on Animal Planet: