Unreliable sources – including one of us
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.