|When you investigate a quality event, |
do you conduct an interview
or an interrogation?
If you are a follower of television news, you undoubtedly know of the problems that Brian Williams, the NBC television network news anchor experienced in early 2015. (If you hadn’t heard, he was found to have embellished his experience as a passenger as he was flying in a military helicopter in Iraq while covering a news story. He claimed his helicopter was hit by antiaircraft fire, when, in actuality, it was the lead helicopter; his aircraft was not affected .) In April 2015, it was reported that there were other exaggerations attributed to him .
There are two different views we can take in considering how Mr. William’s story changed over time. On one hand, his exaggerations might be blamed on showmanship or intentionally telling the proverbial “fish that got away” story. On the other hand, his inflation of the facts could be due to what happens when one’s memories are saved, retrieved, subtly changed, resaved, and then found to have drifted considerably from the original event . (Either case is a bad situation for a journalist to put himself in.) If we think of it this way, Mr. William’s predicament provides a learning opportunity for those involved in deviation and quality event investigations.