Are you sure you wouldn't have rather been a novelist and authored "Airport" and made a few million right off the bat and then retired? A very good reply and I appeciate your thoughts that went into it.
During my tenure with UPI, I covered two major air crashes as a reporter which was way back when the police did not cordon off the area for journalists. May I say that these were more tamer and gentler times, where print reporters and photographers did NOT take photos of body parts. Just being there was sickening and smelly enough.
Today, however, the more gore the better, and that doesn't only go for the aviation industry. There is so much competition between Channel 2-3-4-5 and etc., that the closer and gorier (sp) they can get the better. I'm sorry to say that is what our world has come to. Today, an airliner belly flopping on a runway is not enough. To excite the public we have to have reality shows on TV, and when they're not enough, they have to be "super" reality shows on TV.
I'm sorry that I'm ranting, but when will it stop? That's why every minor incident on an airplane that goes awry loaded from 100 to 400 passengers is a major news item for the moment until everyone is safe on the ground. If it crashes -- yes -- it is a major news item to everyone, including PPRuNe, but most likely it was just a drunk who wanted another miniature vodka.
Your question also was how to teach reporters (I hate the word journalists) how to be more astute and to report facts more correctly.
First of all get it right. You don't have to be first, but you will be respected if you get it right (in my dreams if you are on TV where a breaking story can change from minute to minute and if you have reporter "Dork" on the scene).
If you're writing for a reputable newspaper, you double and triple check your facts and only then do you write your lead. You do not shoot from the hip, because it may come back to haunt you. How about a nice big law suit from the airline. It has happened and the airlines have won. If you do all the right things, you may be named "Transportation Reporter." Your peer level will go up, but it is up to you to keep it up.
I'm sure some lurking reporters won't like what I've said above, but if there are any inquiries of how to handle a reporter/air disaster situation, I would be glad to help. If anybody cares to look up my WWW address, they can find my E-mail under contacts. I was also a PPL flyer.