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ABC's Brian Ross and a press that disregards reputations of those it covers

Rush to be first and lack of concern for reputations go hand in hand

July 21, 2012|By David Zurawik | The Baltimore Sun

“It’s related to the new standards that are part of high-speed journalism where there is simply not much thought given to peoples’ reputations,” Seib said in a telephone interview. “The emphasis is on speed above everything else. We saw it not just in this case with Ross, but the case a couple of weeks ago with two networks getting the Supreme Court decision on healthcare wrong. Traditional journalistic values are being trampled as part of the stampede to get things faster and faster above all else.”

Seib, director of the Center of Public Diplomacy at USC, describes that state of affairs as “very sad,” and says it needs to be explored as a cultural problem.

“First of all, what we are talking about is a culture of high speed information dissemination – I wouldn’t even call it journalism necessarily. Everybody is tweeting about this, or putting something up on Facebook about that. And so many of them are not traditional journalists. So these citizens, who might be more interested in gossip than anything else, are sort of reshaping the standards of information dissemination, and that’s pretty scary.”

As for ABC News and Ross Friday: “There’s just no excuse for that,” Seib says. “Why did that have to be put on the air before it was checked out?”

Why, indeed?

ABC News declined comment Friday beyond the statement of correction and apology.

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