"You had to be there" (and they weren't): The problem with reporter reconstructions

Journal of Mass Media Ethics 14 (3):146 – 158 (1999)
Newspaper stories that rely on reconstruction of events from police reports, court records, and recollections of witnesses often sacrifice attribution for the sake of immediacy. Such stories make compelling reading, but they mislead readers by erasing the line between information obtained via observation and information obtained from human or documentary sources. This article argues that the lack of attribution is more distracting than it presence--because readers wonder how the reporters know what they know--and calls on reporters to make clear when they have left the realm of observation and entered that of reconstruction.
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DOI 10.1207/S15327728JMME1403_2
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