They Got It Fast and They Got It Wrong

Again, the media has let the rush to be first get in the way of getting a story right.  In this case, CNN and Fox News Channel acted too quickly after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision regarding Obamacare was handed down.  Both media outlets reported that it had been overturned, then did an about face and reported that it had been upheld.  The Wall Street Journal posted this interesting article about the mixup.  

In the WSJ story, ABC’s Terry Moran is quoted as saying journalists need to slow down.  Agreed.  But journalists always say that when “first” gets in the way of “accurate”.  And then it happens again.  Sometimes I wonder if we really believe it.

But the plight of the journalist who races to be first raises this question in my mind:  Who cares or evennotices?  In the WSJ story, Moran also said:  “I actually think the audience is much more interested in understanding than in seeing who finishes first in this case. In this day and age, there are few true scoops. … On an event like this, take a breath.”

Yes, there are few true scoops in the age of super-fast delivery systems.  Being first is a matter of a few seconds…seconds.  And, unless the audience is monitoring several outlets at once, viewers/listeners/readers won’t know who was first anyway, unless we tell them.  When the Obamacare decision broke, I was away from our newsroom and the first news I got was from CNN on my iPhone that the Supreme Court had overturned Obamacare.  According to WSJ, CNN didn’t even report the story first and they still got it wrong.  That’s something people will remember long after the story fades.

Ask your friends who had that story first, I’ll be they won’t know…and maybe they won’t even care.  While you’re at it, ask ’em who got it wrong.  They just might be able to answer that one.

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