By Matt DiVenere
Can we all admit that CNN has had a rough few months? The culmination of it all is the “resignation” of three CNN journalists because of a retracted and inaccurate article on hedge-fund manager Anthony Scaramucci and his alleged relationship with a Russian investment fund that was being investigated by the Senate.
Here’s the problem: Every news outlet would jump at the bit for this story. And, according to The New York Times, that’s exactly what CNN did by publishing this article—they jumped despite the network’s standards team concerns. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for this meeting and who made the final decision to publish it.
Not too long ago (in a galaxy far, far away), when there was a retraction because of an inaccurate article, there were specific people in the workflow that the newspaper could point to. Yes, this error fell on these strong, veteran reporters and they paid the ultimate price for it.
But let’s look at the bigger issue at work here. In today’s media landscape, news needs to be broken fast. It needs to be sent out before the ink dries. Well, the Internet ink at least. And when that story is broken, it gets repeated across hundreds of websites and on countless hours of network television.
This isn’t the first time a reporter has gotten a story wrong, and it certainly will not be the last. This need for speed mentality allows for crucial steps to be skipped, sped-up, or done just for show with any suggested changes or results ignored.
Now, I say this without any knowledge on what exactly happened behind the scenes at CNN, but there has to be accountability across the entire industry for articles like this. Especially now when you have the President of the United States spending (clearly) an abundant amount of time and (possibly) resources tracking network journalists’ every move.
Forget “fake news.” This is the Ricky Bobby generation. If you ain’t first, you’re last.
Journalists have always been competitive in nature. It’s just a part of the culture. Throw that competitive streak into a society that thrives on viral news, and you are bound to see people stretch their means to “win.” It’s a broken system and the only way it’s headed is down.
What’s worse is we need this system more than ever. We need it to be fixed, fast. But who will do it? Who can do it?
This is where the story becomes a tragedy for me. If you look at the younger generation of journalists, how will they be taught to succeed? Will the ultimate goal for future journalists be page views and notoriety? Will it be breaking meaningful, well-sourced news or is the race going to be the only driving force in the industry?
There are no easy answers. There’s no overnight fix. This will take a movement and it has to start from within. The scale is tipping against journalists every second. Everything the job has stood for is being dragged through the mud. It’s time to win back our integrity and to boot out anyone who thinks otherwise. It’s time.