Standing between the evidence and the claims
Scenario and questions
There has been a strike at a steel works. The union claims all its 100,000 members were out on strike, but the employer says 50% turned up for work and defied the picket line.
You were reporting from the main gates of the steel plant all day and you didn't see anyone crossing the picket line. You witnessed the mass meeting after which all those taking part left and walked away from the steel works.
You didn't see any action inside the factory grounds. It was clearly at a standstill with nobody but security staff on site.
So, the company says half the staff have defied the strike action but the trades union says all its members were on strike. How do you report the situation? Do you:
a) accept the union's line and say that there was a 100% turn out for the strike.
b) accept the company's line and say that 50% defied the strike call.
c) offer both versions and keep quiet about what you saw because it contradicts what has been said and could confuse the audience.
d) offer both versions, admit you can't confirm which is right or wrong, but describe what you saw in detail.
What would you do?
The author of this piece, David Brewer, is a journalist and media strategy consultant who founded Media Helping Media. David has worked as a journalist and manager in print, broadcast and online. He has spent many years delivering journalism training and media consultancy services worldwide.
This site has been given permission to use and adapt elements of the BBC's Editorial Guidelines in these short editorial ethics modules. They have been updated to reflect changing international, regional and cultural variations.
Image courtesy of Henning Mühlinghaus and released under Creative Commons