From the Editor: Getting it first vs. getting it right

We had a scare last week.

On Friday I got a call from my roommate asking what all the cop cars were doing on campus. I responded with “There are cop cars on campus?”

After that, it was pretty touch and go, but the Twitterverse was bursting with rumours.

I know enough about journalism to know that if we got this wrong, we would be screwed. So, despite texts from friends asking what happened and emails from Aquinian alumni asking why we didn’t have anything online yet, we held back until we talked to the communications officer for STU, Jeffrey Carleton.

He told us there was an individual on campus that a staff member noticed as suspicious. They then notified the police.

We later found out this individual was a man and he said something suggesting he had a weapon on him. The staff member overheard this and notified UNB Security. They called the Fredericton Police who arrived on campus quickly and in full force.

The police apprehended the man and took him into custody. He was later released with no charges laid.

In this  world driven by the internet and instant gratification, being first means everything to the media.  The clock starts ticking the second breaking news happens and you better get there before anyone else.

I remember saying to our news editor, MacKenzie Riley, as we were walking away from our meeting with Carleton: “We need to find a classroom. I need to Tweet.”

That’s the field journalists work in. But to say something, to write a story, to Tweet about something that you’re not 100 per cent sure is true is looking for trouble.

Mistakes happen and rumours spread. Thanks to the diligence of our editorial team on the story, we were able to get it right and get it quickly. But speed shouldn’t compromise quality. If you’re unsure about something then you shouldn’t report it. Plain and simple.

The police were called at 12:02 p.m. One hour later, we had a story online. Some people might argue that it’s one hour too late. I don’t care about those people because we got it right.

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