Working with Words

6 years 7 months 1 week ago Saturday, March 12 2011 Mar 12, 2011 Saturday, March 12, 2011 9:40:00 AM CST March 12, 2011 in Your View
By: Sarah Hill and Robert Kessler

Our storytelling process involves a lot of research and when topics we cover are unfamiliar, mistakes are a possibility. As journalists, we often report on topics outside our personal expertise and no matter how detailed the fact checking, we don't always get the terminology right. A viewer named Jennifer Smith was offended by our usage of the term "alligator-infested" last week in a national story from Florida.

"Alligators and snakes, herps, are demonized a lot in society, and I feel like when things are demonized it makes it easier to do harm to them, thoughtlessly," Smith said.

When terminology comes up in our coverage, we always reference experts or guides to make sure we're using the right words and phrases. In this case we picked up the story from the NBC network database where the Today Show and MSNBC also used the same term.

"While we try not to offend anyone, animal rights activists or whomever they may be, we don't always succeed," KOMU 8 Today anchor Megan Murphy said. "We take stories from other affiliates, obviously that story wasn't in our viewing area, so we took it from another affiliate. MSNBC actually reported that story as alligator-infested, so that's what we did. And like I said, we do try to not offend anyone, sometimes it's impossible."

Journalists rely on expert sources to provide us with accurate information and deliver that to our viewers.

"I think maybe a better word to use would have been alligator-inhabited," Smith said.

If you would like to comment on or question the way we cover the news, click the link on the left.

 

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - For Harold’s Doughnuts owner Michael Urban, big customer turnout and big sales are Homecoming traditions he looks forward... More >>
1 hour ago Thursday, October 19 2017 Oct 19, 2017 Thursday, October 19, 2017 8:13:00 AM CDT October 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Homecoming weekend is a big deal in Columbia with thousands flocking in for festivities, including tailgating prior to... More >>
6 hours ago Thursday, October 19 2017 Oct 19, 2017 Thursday, October 19, 2017 3:35:00 AM CDT October 19, 2017 in News
BOONEVILLE - Law enforcement took two into custody after a car chase late Wednesday night. The couple was identified... More >>
9 hours ago Thursday, October 19 2017 Oct 19, 2017 Thursday, October 19, 2017 12:09:00 AM CDT October 19, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS - Southwest's first all-female crew took off from Missouri on Wednesday. The flight traveled from St. Louis... More >>
11 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 10:07:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Jaden Schwartz had his third career hat trick to help the St. Louis Blues beat the... More >>
11 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 10:06:59 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia Police Department responded to a call at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday afternoon in West Columbia. They are... More >>
14 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 7:39:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
MEXICO-- As Domestic Violence Awareness Month comes to a close, a report by the Violence Policy Center shows that Missouri... More >>
14 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 7:29:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
ASHLAND - Children, parents and politicians attended a Youth Town Hall featuring Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, R-Missouri, Wednesday evening at the... More >>
14 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 7:14:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - After an active threat on MU’s campus, some are disappointed with the MU Alert system and question its... More >>
14 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 6:51:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The Downtown Leadership Council met Tuesday to decide how to spend fees paid by developers to compensate businesses... More >>
16 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 5:33:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — An Arkansas man who made bomb threats to a county courthouse in Missouri so his court hearing... More >>
17 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 4:31:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
MOBERLY - Police arrested a man Tuesday on suspicion of more than a dozen crimes, including rape, statutory rape, sodomy,... More >>
18 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 3:31:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Six years after being one of the first 16 schools to incorporate the Coulter Awards, MU has become... More >>
18 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 3:14:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – People struggling with alcoholism can find help more easily with a new online navigator tool released by the... More >>
18 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 3:12:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A judge has fined a central Missouri prosecutor more than $12,000 for failing to provide records... More >>
18 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 2:52:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – Rep. Vicky Hartzler, (R)-Missouri, presented a new piece of legislation she says is aimed at getting more people... More >>
19 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 2:24:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — A new report sheds light physical confrontations between a Missouri hospital's staff and patients that put the... More >>
19 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 2:13:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
MOUNTAIN VIEW (AP) — Authorities have confirmed that remains found in March in southern Missouri are a woman who has... More >>
19 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 2:08:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 56°
10am 62°
11am 66°
12pm 70°
1pm 72°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

9:00a
Megyn Kelly TODAY
10:00a
Today with Kathie Lee & Hoda
11:00a
Rachael Ray
9:00a
The Steve Wilkos Show
10:00a
Jerry Springer
11:00a
Jerry Springer

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Superstore
7:30p
The Good Place
8:00p
Will & Grace
8:31p
Great News
9:00p
Chicago Fire
7:00p
Supernatural
8:00p
Arrow
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld