Un­re­li­able sources – in­clud­ing one of us

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Points of view -

A press re­lease about com­mut­ing ended up at the wrong des­ti­na­tion – but our news edi­tor’s post about his cat sug­gested he was also los­ing his mar­bles

Jour­nal­ists should al­ways check their sources and make sure that any story stands up to fac­tual scru­tiny. Sadly, these days it feels as if there isn’t al­ways time to ques­tion the judg­ment of tip-offs, or­gan­i­sa­tions, and even pub­lic re­la­tions agen­cies.

One study we re­ceived this week ap­peared to make in­ter­est­ing claims about how rail travel could save com­muters in Ash­ford more time and more cash com­pared with driv­ing to Lon­don.

Re­porter Ai­dan Bar­low had writ­ten a piece for the pa­per, only to check some of the claims made by the com­pany, called Mar­bles, to make sure they were true.

The press re­lease claimed a cheap sea­son ticket could get you to the ar­bi­trar­ily cho­sen tube stop at Tot­ten­ham Court Road for £2,868 each year. This set a few alarm bells ring­ing. Fur­ther­more, it claimed a jour­ney on the train was on av­er­age 18 min­utes faster than go­ing by car, which it cal­cu­lated was enough to save com­muters 160 hours a year.

Nei­ther of these claims stood up to scru­tiny for Ash­ford, Kent, as we know that it costs far more for a sea­son ticket, and we’re pretty sure that 18 min­utes per work­ing day wouldn’t add up to 160 hours of time be­ing saved.

Given that, Ai­dan in­stead de­cided to write this col­umn while ex­tolling the virtues of fact-check­ing.

It turns out, the fig­ure re­flected Ash­ford in Sur­rey.

Ei­ther that, or our re­porter is los­ing his mar­bles.

That leads us to an­other chal­lenge fac­ing mod­ern jour­nal­ists – keep­ing up to date with the rapidly chang­ing world of tech­nol­ogy, so­cial me­dia web­sites, and the in­ter­net gen­er­ally.

Our read­er­ship on­line is still grow­ing and some two-thirds of our read­ers are ac­cess­ing our on­line ar­ti­cles via their mo­bile phone.

As such, we are con­stantly do­ing our best to keep up with tech­nol­ogy and make the web­site ac­ces­si­ble, but it means as jour­nal­ists we have to learn new skills.

So who could blame one or two of our staff for want­ing to test that every­thing is in work­ing or­der?

Un­for­tu­nately for our news edi­tor, Al Irvine, his ex­per­i­ment to post to our web­site Kent On­line from home led to a live ar­ti­cle ap­pear­ing on our page – which showed his cat, Monty.

Monty is a bit of a star but his ap­pear­ance took our team of ed­i­tors com­pletely by sur­prise.

We just hope that Al has now mas­tered how to put sto­ries on­line while at home, oth­er­wise read­ers may be learn­ing more about Monty’s es­capades in the com­ing weeks.

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