Saturday, November 08, 2008

Invention

Friday's news that Barack Obama won an electoral vote from Nebraska's 2nd congressional district might come as a surprise to the dozens of people who caught Channel Sux's 11:30 a.m. newscast on Wednesday.

It was on that broadcast that anchor Jimmy Thiedlecki decided to declare McCain the winner of that vote.

Not only did Jimmy make the wrong call, he did it based on totals that he seems to have just made up. 

When an alert reader emailed the station to point out that the totals shown on the newscast were higher than election officials said had been cast in the 2nd district, he received a reply from Jimmy himthelf explaining that "the numbers on our website were a bit dated and I knew there were uncounted ballots that would have been counted on Wednesday morning."

So, rather than relying on verifiable info from reliable, informed sources, Jimmy decided to figure it out himself. Problem was, Jimmy had no idea what precincts constituted the 2nd district, which led to his reporting bogus numbers.
"I added too many precincts from Sarpy to theDouglas numbers while trying to update them," he admitted in the email.
What's interesting isn't that Jimmy screwed up; we've documented Mr. Know-It-All's ineptitude all too often. The fascinating part is that, rather than having an editorial process for deciding what to report, SuxNews apparently just turns one person loose to get on the air to read whatever he thinks is true. 
The people we know, the news we trust? Is this journalism or just a bunch of people playing TV? 
Maybe, for future elections, they should just air re-runs of "Wild, Wild West." You know, like they do during tornadoes.

3 comments:

Dumb Anguish said...

Poor Siedlecki. Didn't he learn his lesson back in 2000 when he was undoubtedly working for the folks at CNN when they called the state of Florida too early and then were forced to make it "too close to call"?

Or was he still working on "Hee Haw" back then?

Samantha Eastridge said...

Not Hee Haw... he was Jethro on the Beverly Hillbillies.

TickerBoy said...

The scary truth is that this is not a unique example. I can't tell you how many times I remember hearing a producer/reporter/anchor ask whoever happened to be sitting next to them (a reporter, an intern, the janitor) a question of fact and that individual would take the answer as absolute truth and report it as such to the general public.

Fact checking is often left to the the executive producer. First, there's no way an executive producer has time to fact check everything. Second, if you met some of the executive producers in Omaha, you'd quickly realize they might be actually be less informed than the janitors.

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