How should journalists deal with blame?

Journalists, whether reporters, editors or broadcasters, can end up being convenient targets of blame when the stories they publish stir up public controversy. The bigger the issue, the bigger the blame.

Also, public figures who get "bad press" might claim they were misquoted or their remarks taken out of context. They may blame the reporter or the news organization for dwelling on casual remarks instead of the intended messages.

If you have come across situations in which you felt you were unfairly blamed as a result of your reporting, please share your experiences, and offer any lessons that journalists around the world can learn in order to cope with similar challenges in the future.

Be Calm

One time, I did a feature story about an Eritrean old man i met in Kenya. He was of course past the age bracket that allowed him to travel outside Eritrea. We stroked a friendly conversation immediately. I was very interested in knowing about the situation of their country. In fact to my great surprise he agreed to be interviewed. So i did the story about the oppression of Eritreans by the current president. He was very happy about it. So once the story was published, he came to our office claiming that he did not know me and that whatever i had written was not true. Fortunately i produced my notebook and the photos i had taken of him which had even the date when the interview was done. However, he still insisted that my notes were faked. So my advice is, whenever one is confronted by search scenarios, there is no need of being scared. As long as you have prove that you are telling the truth no one can anything against you.

thank you

thank you

Sometime in 1992 I was the

Sometime in 1992 I was the crime correspondent for Daily Times, one of the most read newspapers in Nigeria based in Lagos. It was the trying period of the country coming shortly after the cancellation of the June 12 polls believed to have been won by Late businessmogul Moshood Abiola. I stumbled on a story that chieftains of NADECO, those pushing for the actualisation of that election, had been arrested by police and would be charged to court the next day. I interviewed the spokesman of the police then who confirmed their arrest and arraignment in court. I filed the story and it made the back page the next day. Few days later I was told that the police spokesman denied granting the interview nor confirming the story. Thereafter, detectives from the Federal Criminal Investigation Department commenced a manhunt for me. They visited the newspaper house to effect my arrest but could not reveal their identity. But they had already been unmasked because having got wind of the denial and the manhunt it was easy to distinguish between the police and ordinary civilian visitors to the office. It took the intervention of the Editor on several occasions as he had insisted that the authorities had no need for me but that they should arrest and question him as he published the report. However after several weeks of hiding and cajoling, the police assured that I would not be detained but that I should only come with the documents on which I wrote comments. The editor drove me to the FCID where I was taken to the investigating police office who asked me to make my statement and I did. I also showed them the paper on which I wrote the comments made by the spokesman. They believed me somehow and allowed me to go home.

This experience is not the first nor second but appeared to be the most traumatic because of the prevailing circumstances then. I think the saviour was the fact that I had not discaded the paper on which I wrote down the comments of the police spokesman. It was seen that the writings had taken quite sometime and that actually I did not make up the report. So the first thing is for newsmen to quard jealously their instruments especially when it has to do with controversial stories or newmakers. Again, newsmen should establish credibility in their organisation and be found believable in the eyes of editors so that in the face of any doubt the editors can stay by them.

Thanks. My name is Benjamin Duru, I an presently the Correspondent of Daily Independent Newspapers in Abia State, South East Nigeria.

Never mind the blame

Never mind the blame game...even if you never did a story, the issue will be discussed behind closed doors.Explore, expose and evoke a reaction.Who said growing up is easy? a young journalist who will face so many challenges but learn to overcome the hurdles-its just a hill not a mountain.

Never be scared to tell a newsworthy story just because a politicain will blame you.Your doing your job and learn to do it well.

اخي منير التاوي مثل هل

اخي منير التاوي مثل هل المشاكل ثحدث مع الكثرين

وانت من واجبك انك تنقل الخبر على حق ولو ان الجريدة غلطتت فى حققك


The biggest armour against

The biggest armour against blame is the truth. Once a journalist treats a story truthfully and objectively, without malice, he has only his conscience as his judge and so should be able to overcome whatever negative reactions that may arise from the story. Blame may affect young practitioners but senior journalists sooner develop thick skin against the blame game. Journalists should however understand that they are like judges. Each time a judge passes judgement in a case, he becomes a bad judge to the loser and a good judge to the winner. So is the public's perception of journalists. When you write a story that is favourable to an individual or group of individuals, you are a good journalist and showered with praises. But when you write a story not favourable to an individual or group of individuals, you are a bad journalist to be blamed and subjected to all sorts of -isms. Objectivity and truth are thus the media man's armour against this public reation.

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