Too often in today’s media, the mentality seems to be “bring information to viewers, listeners and readers as quickly as possible.” When this happens, the regard for accuracy and fairness is pushed aside in exchange for the notorious moniker “first.”
It was the case during the 2000 presidential election when many networks called the final outcome before all returns were in. The need to be first outweighed the need to be right.
That being said, until charges are filed, any story about a former Temple employee’s allegations against Bill Cosby are really just – well, allegations.
The Temple News has decided not to run a story about Cosby’s reported inappropriate actions with a former Temple employee. With several news organizations running away with the story, we probably look like we’re turning a blind eye to the alleged behavior of Temple’s favorite son. Are we defending Cosby?
No. But we’re not exonerating him, either.
In the American legal system, if you are charged with a crime, you are innocent until proven guilty. But before actual charges are filed, there is no “until proven guilty,” and there is no “innocent.” Without charges, it’s all just rumor and speculation, a he-said she-said game not unlike two toddlers fighting over “who started it.”
We’re not jumping into the fray.
On the night the allegations against Cosby became public information, The Temple News was contacted by several national news sources. They asked what we thought, what we knew and what we would print. Some news outlets even offered monetary compensation in exchange for information.
Not only would that be considered bribery, but the information they sought would be to substantiate rumors, not to provide news.
Are these allegations newsworthy? Yes. But the means by which these organizations pursued the story frankly leaves some of us in the newsroom disappointed. These are people we are supposed to be looking to as examples of professionalism and “how it should be done.”
If Cosby is to be charged with a crime, you can count on coverage of the facts here. Until then, we’ll let the national media crank the rumor mill and stick with what we know instead. Who knows? If we’re lucky, The National Enquirer will follow suit.