Thursday, February 12, 2015

What does Brian Williams have to do with writing? by Terry Burns

The news and social media are full of it, Brian Williams stretching the truth in newscasts, apparently in several instances.

What's the big deal? An announcer on a Christian radio station said we of all people should be offering forgiveness instead of 'piling on.'

I'm good with that, offering Christian forgiveness and not castigating the man. But does that mean I trust him to be factual with the news? That's a different issue and seems to be the one people are primarily concerned about.

But what does this mean for writers? What can we draw from it?

How about this? People like us as a writer and as a person. They like the story we offer and find it an enjoyable read. But some of the things we present as fact don't check out because we didn't do our research. Does that put us in the same boat?

One of my colleagues told me of a client that offered a story to an English publisher. He turned it down because it had a turtle in it and there are no turtles in England. If he couldn't trust that fact he didn't know what other facts he might not be able to trust.

You may have seen that in a blog here. We've had considerable discussion on the importance of proper research and getting our facts right but to me this issue filling the news today is a very strong example.

People stretch the truth all the time, the size of a fish they caught, the one that got away. But people that are supposed to be giving us facts that we can trust, when that trust is broken it can take quite a while to earn that trust again. Does it apply to us as writers?

I think it does.

1 comment:

David Smith said...

So very true. Plagiarism and fact-stretching are deadly sins in our chosen line of work. And the Williams saga is a painful reminder of how important our integrity is. Thanks for a thought-provoking post.