Checklists have been proven to work for pilots, doctors, nurses, and even people working at a nuclear power stations. For example, the use of aWorld Health Organization surgical safety checklist helped reduce inpatient deaths following operations by 40 percent, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Checklists also work for journalists. We just don’t use them.
One reason is that newsrooms often put too much emphasis on experience. The assumption is that a veteran reporter or editor will make fewer errors than a rookie. But research doesn’t support this idea. In a 2000 article for the British Medical Journal, James Reason, one of the world’s leading researchers of human error, emphasized that “it is often the best people who make the worst mistakes—error is not the monopoly of an unfortunate few.”
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