dart target accuracyThere is one thing that broadcast news programs, national newspapers, online media giants, smaller content publishers, and publishers of every other size you can imagine have in common. They’re competing for eyes and ears in an increasingly competitive, always turned on world.

As Kathy Walton, an audio engineer for several broadcast news services, told Beth Winegarner of The Poynter Institute, the problem really started to pick up steam when the remote control found a place in everyone’s home. She said, “The day it became so easy to change the channel was the day television news stopped being news and began tap dancing to keep people from clicking away.” Fast forward to 2013 and the internet and mobile devices have made the fight for audiences even more intense.

As a result, content quality suffers in a variety of ways. That result isn’t surprising. When you’re fighting for viewers, listeners, readers, and clicks, stories are going to be massaged accordingly. To combat that problem, Winegarner shared five tips to help content writers and publishers “desensationalize” stories without reducing their impact (follow the link above to read all of the details about each tip):

  1. Stick to the facts.
  2. Be careful when naming and describing suspects.
  3. Remain skeptical—even of “experts.”
  4. Get all the details you can.
  5. Tell a good story.

Bottom-line, fact-checking and accuracy in content publishing often lose out to publishing speed and sensationalism. This is a dangerous path to follow, so heed Winegarner’s advice, which mirrors advice provided last month by journalists at the 2013 Global Investigative Journalism Conference. One of the often repeated tips from these seasoned journalists was to get documented proof of the information you report and publish.

In response to Winegarner’s article, veteran journalist Steve Buttry shared Craig Silverman’s accuracy checklist. Silverman is a journalist and author of Regret The Error: How Media Mistakes Pollute the Press and Imperil Free Speech. You can see his accuracy checklist below.

Checklist. Craig Silverman. Regret the error

Buttry also shared his own accuracy checklist which is an extension of Silverman’s. It’s filled with additional checklist items and a detailed elaboration, which is sure to help any writer or publisher improve his or her content. For example, Buttry added what he believes is the most important question a reporter can ask when investigating any story, “How do you know that?” Just follow the preceding link to get all of the details.

Buttry also echoed the views of Winegarner and the journalists at the 2013 Global Investigative Journalism Conference about documents and proof saying, “Find official data, records and reports that can confirm, refute or expand upon what you have been told. Photographs or videos might help you verify some details. If you are writing about a court hearing you didn’t attend, get the official transcript.”

At the end of the day, your content is only as good as its quality and accuracy. This is something that Authoritative Content publishers know, and these checklists can only help make your content better than ever.

Image: Asif Akbar