Posted by Laura
A question of trust
There’s an old media saying which states that a journalist is only as good as his or her source. It is therefore up to the individual writer to decide whether they trust the source enough to rely on it or not. The problem with the above statement is that it could potentially give some less scrupulous journalists a get-out clause for insufficient research or – even worse – they may feel they have a licence to print untruths under the premise that they got it from what they perceived to be a ‘reliable source’.
The degree to which this affects the credibility of the publisher depends on the nature of information being relayed to the public and the impact of the statements on others. A few inaccuracies have been highlighted by you, our users, in November’s monthly mailbag. And in response to these we have reviewed some of the sources we use for information. The nature of the errors was minor, but it has meant we have looked again at the information we trust and the information that needs extra checking.
One correspondent wrote: “In your daily quiz today (Nov 8th) you state that the Great White Shark is the heaviest fish. Since when was the up to 30ft long Great White heavier than the 90ft long Whale shark? For goodness sake get your facts right!” And this person was not alone in contacting us.
Upon further research, we discovered that the users were indeed right and we have to plead guilty as charged for getting the answer wrong. In our defence, the information was obtained from an animal facts database which was incorrect, but we accept that a lesson has been learned and we will try harder to validate our sources of information in future.
Similarly, an error was made in the quiz of November 15 in which we stated the singer Shakira’s real name was Isabel Ripoll, when in fact it is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll. Again, this came from erroneous information from a source. Thanks to all of you who wrote in to let us know of these inaccuracies. We strive to avoid errors, but on rare occasions some are made and we appreciate comments letting us know. It is very valuable to be held to account by you, our users, and we hope it helps shape the way we gather information and make improvements to our portal and content.
The ‘new-look’ homepage
It has been more than two months since we launched the new-look homepage on September 14. After initially receiving a deluge of comments asking for the old homepage back, many of you are now warming to the new design, with “very good” and “great content” among the favourable responses. There were, of course, some users coming back to the site who were unacquainted with our new design. One user expressed a preference for the French MSN homepage, which still uses the old design. Another commented the new homepage was, at times, “very confusing”. The change in design aims to make the site easier to navigate by allowing you to browse the channels via the navigation bar at the top. It also allows us, as editors, to pick out our key features and important stories of the day in the slideshow at the top of the page. We believe it has helped us present some of the key issues of the day in an eye-catching and engaging way and hope we can continue to make the most of the new design to be even more relevant and of-the-day in future. Watch this space!
Another bugbear that came up often was the adverts featured on the homepage. We do try to monitor these closely and have restrictions on the ones that are invasive on the page, but we encourage you to give us your comments on those you like – and those you don’t. There is a feedback link underneath each advert which allows you to send in your comments.
Keep on blogging
The homepage blog continues to attract comments, particularly if the subject matter is deemed controversial. Our two entries on the subjects of ‘why I love’ and ‘why I loathe’ cricket inspired many fans of the sport to get writing. Unsurprisingly, the most venomous responses were reserved for the cricket-loathing blog, with angry fans writing in to defend their love of the game. “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it! Or does your TV not have an off switch?” exclaimed one. “I love our heritage and I love our sport and will be wishing our team the best of luck (Steve Harmison is a god),” vowed another, although perhaps they may be reviewing their latter sentiment now the first test is over! However, the cricket-haters who posted comments were equally vociferous, with one user branding it as “just another sport that England can’t play”, and another correspondent urging cricket fans to “find a real hobby”.
But, irrespective of your point of view, the main aim of our blogs was to prompt a debate among you, which we believe we did successfully. We decided to write the entries after having a debate ourselves. It was really interesting to see the same debate recreated on the blog, although your comments were far more varied and passionate than we could generate on the team! Keep reading the blog and keep your views coming in, and we’ll keep trying to cover the issues that we think will get you talking.
What would you like to see more/less of on MSN and the homepage blog? Let us know your thoughts.