4 thoughts on “When clarity causes confusion in your newsfeed

  1. My stance is that if your reporter wasn’t at the scene of the story they wrote, you simply don’t include a dateline at all.

    As you point out, it’s confusing when the dateline doesn’t match the location of the story. Including the location of the writer becomes irrelevant if they weren’t at the scene. If I write a story about an event that happened in Tokyo, and I was not physically there, what’s the difference if I wrote it from San Francisco, or Calgary, or Moscow, or Madrid? The reader doesn’t need to know which city I was in when I wrote it unless that city was Tokyo. If it wasn’t, then the omission of the dateline should get that point across, and avoid confusion.

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    1. Agreed. Leave the dateline out, include the location in the first or second paragraph, and avoid confusion.

      Journalists should have a journalistic oath that begins, “First, cause no confusion.”

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  2. I’m getting cynical in my old age, but I don’t know that readers will ever consistently latch on to industry standards meant to clarify. I remember reading an advertorial after which readers complained endlessly that it sounded like an advertisement. Never mind that it was clearly labeled as such right across the top. (Also never mind my opinion on newspapers running advertorials in general.)

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    1. So at what point has the medium done their due diligence to tell the reader what they’re looking at (advertorial, sponsored content, news analysis), and any confusion is the reader’s fault? The reader needs to bear some responsibility, but the writer has to make a reasonable attempt to represent the piece accurately.

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