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October 20, 2015
We’ve Been There: Yes, The Times Distorts the News
 
We feel a little like we’re walking in Jay Carney’s shoes in his dispute with The New York Times over the accuracy of its coverage of Carney’s current employer, Amazon.com (he was the White House press secretary). We had very much the same experience with The Times in the communications group at the Three Mile Island nuclear power station after the 1979 accident there.

The problem is, The Times, like other media outlets though maybe moreso, brings its own notion of a story to the setting – that’s why it decided to invest its resources in the piece in the first place. It’s not prepared to be surprised, or to learn something other than it perceived to be so.

At TMI, a strengthened and better-trained staff was determined to apply the lessons of the Unit 2 accident, but The Times had little or no sense of that and wasn’t interested in learning about GPU Nuclear’s actual response to the accident. At Amazon, it seems to have had a similarly preconceived notion of what it’s like to work there, which leaves Jay Carney trying to jolt them into thinking, “Gee, maybe we overdid that.” Maybe so, but watch out if The Times calls.

The media needs to be more trusting of the good intentions of others, especially when they may have been prompted by adversity. We all learn, why not the media too?

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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