Friday, 30 November 2007

Fantasy vs. reality

I am finding the chasm between the public's perception of local issues, and reality, quite interesting, if not a little frustrating. After only a little probing, leads for on-patch stories vanish before you can say "can I quote you on that?".

One shopworker told me that Gibson Square, where he lives, has "so much dog shit it's not even funny.

"Go," he urged me, "and see for yourself how much there is. It's unbelieveable."

Off I trundled, and spent about twenty minutes, eyes to the ground, combing the pavements and parks for evidence, and getting strange looks.Well, what a load of crap! Or rather, not. Not a turd to be seen. I've been several times, and have encountered the odd poo, but certainly not the open sewer I was promised. Bang went my story.

This has happened a fair few times. Shop assistants have told me things they've heard through word-of-mouth, the issue has got simplified along the way and blown out of proportion, and I think I've got a splash. But a little research reveals it wouldn't even be a valid NIB.

Which all goes to show how important double - and triple - sourcing is in journalism, and how lazy journalism can lead to misrepresentation and, ultimately, the reporter getting mired in the brown stuff.