Here’s a lesson I learned early in my journalism career: “Ignore what everyone else around you is doing, and think for yourself.”
It served me well over my 35-year-and-counting career. When I was reporting for CNN I made a point of not reading the wire service versions of the story I was covering until after I had written my own story, or look at what my competition was reporting. I learned over time that that if I thought for myself, and didn’t look over my shoulder at what my fellow reporters were doing, 90% of the time I outshone the competition.
Yes, sometimes I got beat, or sometimes a talented colleague wrote a more insightful report, or picked a better angle or quote, but I also learned that being overly-influenced by what my competition was doing was invariably a prescription for mediocrity. And my “think-for-yourself rule” helped propel me to one of the preeminent reporters on my beat.
Okay, I know that sounds a little self-congratulatory, but a) it’s true, and b) I say it as a prelude to a modest proposal: Maybe, just maybe, news organizations should no longer republish or rebroadcast dubious sourced reports on breaking news, and instead check them out and satisfy themselves they are accurate, before spreading the news. Read more at Jamie McIntyre’s Line of Departure