Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Questions surrounding the Fort Hood shootings

There seems to be many lessons coming out of the reporting of the Fort Hood shootings last week and one may well be how do you balance confirmation of facts with the race to get the story out first.

The pressures to break news on the web can often outweigh the journalistic checks and balances and it is worth reading this feature from Greg Marx over at CJR.

He looks in detail at a report that appeared on Sunday in the Fort Worth Star Telegram in which the article stated that

In 2001, Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center was led by Anwar Al-Awlaki, a New Mexico-born scholar now living in Yemen. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, according to new disclosures by a Fort Hood acquaintance, was an admirer of Al-Awlaki who has been described as a radical Islamist.

Unfortunately the article had failed to track down this source and as Marx writes

the Star-Telegram hadn’t actually tracked down a close friend of Hasan’s—rather, it had found a novelist who said he had spoken to this unidentified friend, and had decided that, at least in this case, a bit of journalistic telephone passed muster.


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