Opinion: What we’ve learned from Arizona

Regina Garcia Cano

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head during a meeting with constituents in Tucson, Ariz., Saturday. As soon as the media got a hold of the news, breaking-news alerts were sent through e-mails, Twitter and Facebook. Some reported Giffords’ death; others said she was in critical condition.

The urgency of some news organizations to be able to claim they had delivered the news before their competitors created the perfect climate for misinforming people.

NPR was the first U.S. news outlet to declare Rep. Giffords dead. After the facts proved the organization wrong, NPR’s News Executive Editor Dick Meyer explained in an editor’s note Sunday the information they reported came from two government sources. “The error we made was unintentional, an error of judgment in a fast-breaking situation.”

By printing time, Giffords was in critical condition at a Tucson hospital. The shooting resulted in 14 people injured, including Giffords, and six deaths.

As human beings, journalists have the right to err, however, they’re not entitled to speculate. Unfortunately, the media reports of the shooting were followed by a series of theories by journalists and political experts on the reasons for the attack. Reasons that by printing time were still unknown.

While members of the Daily Kent Stater are journalists in training, we are committed to follow the principles that frame this profession. On behalf of the Stater staff, I want to reassure you that this semester, we will do our best to bring you the most accurate and objective information in a timely fashion.

This past weekend, we learned that we should not just rush to speculation. Having every journalist and commentator on cable news trying to explain the motives of one person does no justice for the victims.

This journalistic mishap should be a reminder for all of us working in student media — the Daily Kent Stater included — that we should trust, but verify our sources. Most importantly, this communication mistake taught us that in a Twitter age, patience is still an issue and the truth is worth waiting for.

Regina Garcia Cano is the editor of the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].