Holland College | Journalism instructor writes chapter for new text book
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School of Visual Arts and Journalism

Journalism instructor writes chapter for new text book

Andrew Gilligan had a scoop he wanted to share. Right away. So at 6:07 a.m. on May 29, 2003 he sat in front of a microphone and did just that. Government claims that Iraq could launch weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes were nonsense, the BBC defence correspondent said. The government had fudged the facts to trick the public into supporting the war. His source had helped write the report.

"Downing Street...ordered it to be sexed up, to be made more exciting," Gilligan said. In his rush to be first, however, the reporter was wrong. Twice.

So begins chapter 12 of the new book The New Journalist: Roles, Skills and Critical Thinking, published by Emond Montgomery Publications.

The chapter - Reporting Basics: Accuracy, Precision and Balance - is written by Journalism instructor Rick MacLean of Holland College. The chapter is a look at the pressures facing the modern media and the struggle reporters face in trying to cover the news in this new environment.

MacLean has been in the news business for the past 26 years, including teaching in the college's Journalism program for the last 10. He also writes a column for the local paper, The Guardian, and is part of a weekly political panel for CBC Compass, the Island's evening news show.

"The rush to cover the news is more intense than ever," MacLean said. "Anyone with a cell phone can shoot video and post it on the Internet within minutes. It means some of the biggest competitors many news organizations now face are their own customers."

The result is a sometimes dangerous rush to get news online in a hurry, without first ensuring the information is fair, accurate or balanced, he said.

"In the Andrew Gilliagan case, the expert he used as a source was uncovered and later committed suicide, forcing the BBC to rethink the way it covers the news."

The 348-page book is a collection of essays on journalism in these changing times, with authors from around the country contributing. Subjects include the role of social media like Facebook, the Internet and the future of newspapers, and libel in an online world.

For more information about The New Journalist: Roles, Skills, and Critical Thinking, published by Emond Montgomery Publications or to download sample chapters, visit www.emp.ca.


For more information about this release, please contact:
Sara Underwood, Media and Communications Officer
Tel: 902-566-9695
Date: Friday, May 21, 2010