Letter from the Editor: A dilemma we’ve all wrestled with

Falkirk Herald editor-in-chief Colin Hume
Falkirk Herald editor-in-chief Colin Hume

As the long-time editor of The Falkirk Herald, I have a lot of sympathy with the views expressed by Jill Buchanan in this column last week.

The dilemma of whether to immediately publish information the public need to know or wait until all the details have been confirmed is one I’ve wrestled with on numerous occasions.

It was less of an issue in the days when all we had to worry about was the weekly publication of a newspaper

It was less of an issue in the days when all we had to worry about was the weekly publication of a newspaper but now, with the internet at the centre of most things we do, it’s an almost daily debate.

Of course, we don’t always get it right but, even though I wasn’t involved in last week’s deliberations, I wholeheartedly agree with the decision to publish the online article on schools being evacuated even though the ones which were directly affected hadn’t yet been pinpointed. By the time we broke our story online, the basic details had not only been publicised by Police Scotland but Forth Valley Police had shared them on their Facebook page, raising concern amongst parents.

Different organisations have different views. Sky, one of the pioneers of rolling news, famously took the approach of getting the information out as soon as possible – then correcting it if necessary.

On the other hand, I remember hearing a talk about reporter for a TV channel in the United States. An expert on Twitter, he had used the medium to piece together a story about the Clutha Bar helicopter crash. However, because the channel in question had a policy of never carrying news from the UK until it appeared on the BBC, the ‘exclusive’ was lost.