Saturday, January 15, 2011

What terrible reporting looks like

For a news outlet, few things are more important than reporting a murder of an important official.

Unless, of course, the person wasn't killed.

Observe screenshots from our beloved Fox News. They continued, despite universal evidence to the contrary on every other network, that Gabrielle Giffords was dead.

This isn't nitpicking. Nor can it be excused by the racing seconds-by-second news cycle during a breaking event. YOU DON'T REPORT FACTS THAT AREN'T VERIFIED.

Like someone being "fatally shot," for instance.








4 comments:

Dianna said...

Not to defend Fox's actions, but I'm pretty sure that NPR, MSNBC and others sent out breaking news alerts saying that she had died. So it wasn't just Fox News, but much of the media as a whole. So I don't think it's necessarily fair OR balanced to single out one media outlet.

Jonathan Rubin said...

I gotta disagree. CNN, NY Times, Politico and many other outlets didn't jump the gun. They said she was shot and waited until they knew more before they weighed in about her health.

Dianna said...

You're right; POLITICO didn't. But the New York Times did: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/16/opinion/16pubed.html?src=twr

CNN also reported that she had died: http://www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/npr-editor-calls-reporting-of-rep-gabrielle-giffords-death-a-serious-and-grave-error_b47530

The public editor at the NY Times does a great job of illustrating the pressure and the confusion that surrounded the hours after the shooting.

Jonathan Rubin said...

I admit defeat on this one. Besides Dianna good evidence she provides, the Post's Ombudsman did a piece on this and admitted they did the same thing:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/14/AR2011011404624.html

So while this is still a bad journalistic practice, Fox was far from the only one who screwed it up.