Thursday 23 November 2017

Accuracy is crucial

Madam – The incidence of factual inaccuracies stealthily creeping into our media is something that has been nobly highlighted by your correspondent, Declan Lynch. In the endless, frantic clamour for "content" something as trivial as factual integrity is seen as an acceptable casualty of the ratings war. This is particularly egregious when it comes to sports reportage where one deals with statistics rather than the more flexible content under the umbrella term "opinion".

As Mr Lynch has pointed out, our national broadcaster has been guilty on several recent occasions of such lapses, but this malaise is by no means confined to RTE. On Newstalk on Monday, March 4, broadcaster Chris Donoghue was musing on whether Ronan O'Gara had played his last game for Ireland. He was, as we were informed, 38 later on that week, after all. Once the debate had run its course, Chris, having presumably been handed a scrap of paper, corrected himself, jokily referring to having aged Mr O'Gara prematurely. "I must have confused his age with his number of caps," Chris said, informing us that, "He has 128 caps but he is 36 years old." He substantiated this with the telling phrase, "That is written on the page in front of me." So I guess it must be right, then.

Indeed, Ronan O'Gara was due to be 36 three days after the discussion in question, but he was, in fact, 35 at the time of this report. "35, 36, what's the big deal?" one might argue, but when discussing the possible end of a player's career perhaps some accuracy may not unreasonably be demanded.

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