How News Organization Get News

TV crews set up in the Russell Building, Washington, D.C.

News organizations gather information with teams of reporters and editors. But they also use outside sources including wire services, or news agencies, to provide information.

These news agencies have their own teams of reporters, videographers, editors and producers who cover breaking news, politics, business, sports, entertainment, culture and more. They have investigative teams that frequently break important stories.

The Associated Press, a not-for-profit news cooperative, has teams in 100 countries and provides content to more than 1500 news outlets. Those news outlets contribute to the cost of news gathering and can use the material that the AP provides.

AP

Reuters describes itself as the “world’s largest multi-media news-provider.” Part of the Canadian Reuters Thompson Company, traded publicly on the New York Stock Exchange, it says it serves more than a billion people every day.

Reuters

Bloomberg, a privately-owned company, provides business and other news, digitally, through video, audio and on TV.  It has a big business providing news to Wall Street firms and other financial companies.

Bloomberg News

 News agencies headquartered in countries around the world also report and provide important information.

Lester Holt on NBC News set

ABC, NBC, FOX , CNN,  NPR , BBC  and other broadcast groups have services to provide content including video and audio to smaller TV and radio stations around the country.

Government Agencies

Police departments, fire departments and some government agencies have public information offices that put out alerts and updates about breaking news.

NYPD Counter Terrorism Officers

NYFD at 10 Alarm fire

The NYPD, for example, has an office called D.C.P.I., run by the Deputy Commissioner,  Public Information.

Hurricane Harvey

During hurricanes and disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) put out regular bulletins including those warning people to watch out for scams and frauds.

Social Media

Increasingly, news organizations look to social media to stay up with breaking news. They monitor social media platforms and then verify information from the posts, or tweets.

Other News Outlets

Newspapers, radio stations, television news organizations and digital news companies monitor one another.  If one breaks a story, others may pick it up and give credit: The New York Times , ABC News,  the BBC , Al Jezeera, ESPN, etc. reports, or they may assign a reporter and try to advance the story themselves.

Reporters and editors in news organizations work as a team, but they also compete with each other and other organizations to get stories. Sources provide an important stream of information that reporters and editors verify and expand.

Public Relations and Communications Directors

Public relations firms representing companies and clients, communications and p.r. people from companies, sports teams, not-for-profits and every type of organization you can imagine contact news organizations and individual reporters to push stories.

Reporters and editors often pick up these stories, verify and expand them.

News organizations and reporters often reach out to p.r. people to provide an expert who can help flesh out a story. They also use public relations representatives to help get access to government buildings, hospitals, sports arenas and private spaces.

DailyNewsScreenshot

News Sources

  • People we talk to every day.
  • Family and friends.
  • The crossing guard on the corner.
  • Reporters get assigned to beats — the police, the courts, city hall, the White House, the arts, celebrities, fashion, food, movies, books, business.
  • Reporters develop sources and the best reporters get information from those sources regularly.
  • Reporters get access. Access to a crime scene, a fire, politicians, a mayor, a closed meeting with a group of people making a big decision, athletes, a sports team, celebrities and more.

Good Reporters, Editors and Producers Always:

Ask Questions

Research

Ask more questions

Take notes

Ask More questions

Fact check and ask more questions

Easy to Make Mistakes, So Verify

The Parkland shooting shows us how easily you can make a mistake and report things that are untrue in the rush to get a story out quickly.

Two things stand out:

  1. The false report that Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who killed 17 and wounded 14 others at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, was connected to a white supremacist group.
  2. There have been 18 school shootings since January 1st, 2018.

Let’s tackle the first false report.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an organization that follows hate groups, wrote on its blog the day after the shooting that Cruz was associated with a Jacksonville, Florida, white supremacist group, Republic of Florida (ROF). The ADL had previously been contacted by someone who described himself as the leader of the group.

The ADL told Politico it picked up the information on 4chan, a bulletin board where self-described ROF members claimed Cruz was one of them.  News organizations picked the story up and people on 4chan kept it going. One of the users described it as “prime trolling opportunity,” and the discussions involved fooling reporters and feeding them the story that Cruz was with ROF.

The same kinds of conversations between these trolls about the false connection showed up on Discord, a gamers’ app that attracts neo-Nazis, about a concerted effort to fool reporters.

Politico posted these exchanges from the bulletin boards:

“On the Discord chat, a user called Curbstomp suggested sharing generic photos of ROF and claiming they depicted Cruz.

“I have an idea . . . We can just take a pic of masked ROF members and claim one of them is Cruz,” Curbstomp wrote.

Members of the Discord chat swapped potential photos.

Others joined the chorus on 4chan, interspersing jokes with purported confirmations.

“I can confirm this guy was trying to enact a race war and got kicked out of ROF,” wrote another poster.”

Reporters from AP and ABC contacted the trolls and supposed members of the group and went with the story.

But shortly after the first report, on Thursday, February 15, 2018, the Broward County sheriff said it wasn’t true.

How do you verify a claim that someone is in a hate group?

The Southern Poverty Law Center monitors hate groups. Contact them and ask.

The FBI monitors hate crimes. Some local law enforcement agencies do too. Contact them and ask.

ProPublica, a non-profit news organization, began Documenting Hate, a project that collects data from journalists from more than 130 news organizations as well as independent journalists, local law enforcement, community groups and civil rights groups to try to get a clear picture of what is happening in America

The Anti-Defamation League has been a reliable source in the past.

The bottom line is that Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter are good sources for leads and ways to connect with people. But you have to be extremely careful, because we know that people in chat rooms, on social media, and trolls are determined to spread false information and use reporters to to do it.  Take your time. Report only what you know.

 

 

2. Mistaken numbers about school shootings.

PolitiFact traced the first error to surface to a tweet from ABC reporter Jeff Greenfield.

In the rest of the world, there have been 18 school shootings in the last twenty years. In the U.S., there have been 18 school shootings since January 1.

It picked up 130,000 likes on Twitter.

Greenfield apparently picked up the statistic from Everytown for Gun Safety, an advocacy group founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The number of 18 does not mean that there were 18 incidents of someone going into a school and shooting students, as Cruz allegedly did.

Instead the number includes a man committing suicide in a school parking lot and a student unintentionally firing an instructor’s gun. You can see the full list here.

If we use careful language, we would not classify many as school shootings.

Checking Facts:

PolitiFact checks claims of politicians, reporters and others in the news.

FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center

Snopes.org was founded in 1994 to research urban legends. It has become a go-to source for checking out internet rumors.

Open Secrets.org, part of The Center for Responsive Politics, follows political contributions and money spent on lobbying. It followed where the National Rifle Association (NRA)  money went in the 2016 election.

 

Sunlight Foundation shines the light on government and government officials using public records, technology and information from civic groups and journalists,

See Through New York, a project of the Empire Center, shows you salaries of every public employee in New York State as well as pension information.