Mistakes by journalists add fuel to critics' fire, experts warn

Experts say that recent mistakes by high-profile news organizations are adding fuel to the critics of the news media. (MGN)

Some of the country's most respected journalists are under fire lately for making very public mistakes.

In an environment where the news media has come under attack from the White House for "fake news," experts say further reporting errors have added fuel to critics' fire.

"The amount of anonymous sources has just ballooned," said Dr. Richard Vatz, a professor of rhetoric at Towson University.

He warned that when credibility is on the line, journalists can't afford to make any more mistakes.

"I'm certain as one can be certain that there is no intention to lie, but when you rush your news and you have a bias against the people you are reporting, it's almost impossible to avoid," he said. Stopping short of using the term "fake news," Vatz said that some of the reporting is "just inaccurate."

Last week, The Washington Post cited "an anonymous source" who claimed the Centers for Disease Control had ordered seven words banned from upcoming budget documents. But CDC administrators fired back, saying was never banned from using certain words and called the report a "gross mischaracterization."

Earlier this month, ABC News suspended Brian Ross, who reported during a live broadcast that former national security adviser Mike Flynn was going to testify that President Donald Trump instructed him to make contact with Russians while Trump was a candidate.

CNN also had to correct a report earlier this month after saying that Donald Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. had received access to WikiLeaks documents, damaging to Hillary Clinton, before those documents were available to the public. The report was simply wrong.

Experts acknowledged that news outlets take mistakes seriously. Some of the country's major news organizations allow reporters three mistakes in their career before they're fired.

According to Sarah Oates, University of Maryland Merrill School of Journalism professor, the demands on journalists are now even greater, the expectations are higher, but the public's trust is still on the line.

"I don't believe journalists are more careless these days," Oates said. "We are not the enemy. We are your best friend."

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