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Conflicting Reports Lead to Questions of Journalism Integrity

All the wrong information that came out about the Boston Marathon bombing Wednesday has people wondering if journalism has lost it's way.

James Hoyt, a former journalism professor at UW-Madison says there's no easy answer to that question thanks to what he calls the multiplicity of news sources. The problem with having so many news outlets, like we have today,is that some are reliable and some are not. That puts even the most seasoned news sources between a rock and a hard place.

"If I think of myself as a network and there's a story that is being reported everywhere else, but I don't trust it part of me says ok let's just ignore it. On the other hand, if it's something that's going on that everybody's talking about that's in the buzz of the day, I'm going to look kind of silly," Professor Hoyt explained.

Although he believes the media should be held accountable for reporting inaccurate information, he adds that the audience too has a responsibility.

"My own belief is that audience members don't pay as much attention to sources as they used too." Hoyt said adding, "That is, if information out there, if I've heard about it, if i've seen it somewhere on some website, some blog, some email communication then I'm interested in it and I'm willing to believe it to a greater degree than I probably should."

Professor Hoyt says the best way to protect yourself from being taken in by false information is to be an active listener and ask yourself where did this information come from. The term "sources say" just isn't good enough. Another red flag is if your news outlet refuses to reveal the identity of their sources.


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