New Media PR: The Good, Bad and Ugly
Breaking News. A Race To Be The First To Deliver Even If It’s Wrong?
by Erin Smith on 06/29/2012
In a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States on Thursday, June 28, the individual insurance mandate of President Obama's "Affordable Health Care Act" was upheld in a 5-4 decision, although you might not know that if you read only the first few tweets and headlines reported. News outlets CNN and Fox News erroneously reported that the mandate had been struck down as unconstitutional, forecasting a pretty bad day for President Obama.
Turns out, yesterday was rather good for the president. The initial reports were wrong, meaning that “Obamacare” has been upheld under the government’s power to tax. These are rather important details for Americans to know, which makes the bad reporting worrisome.
In an era in which our news often comes by way of Twitter, Facebook, blogs and websites, there is a race to get breaking information out first and fastest. Gone are the days when news was delivered at 6:00 and 11:00 pm, giving reporters sufficient time to research and fact-check; it is now about speed and how fast news can be distributed. As someone who gets my news through these online sources, it was disappointing to see the lack of attention paid to details and even made me question my reliance on these sources – and typically notable ones at that! What other important details are getting overlooked and what other misinformation am I being fed? I even wondered if this sloppy reporting is going to become the norm, which will really be a bummer because I, for one, do not want to have to recheck all the news that I am reading.
The positive side of quickly delivered news means that the mistakes were corrected without too much trouble and in a very timely fashion. Maybe this quick correction makes the gaffe less painful. After all, we only had to be misinformed for a matter of minutes. Another positive is that during a crisis or when really important news needs to be disseminated quickly – we can look to Twitter and other social media sites for help. I previously blogged about this when Raleigh felt the earthquake out of Washington, D.C.
I would say that we can all learn a lesson from CNN and Fox News’ mistake: make sure your details are correct before you share them with the world. It’s a good reminder to individuals and PR professionals alike.
Is this mistake a big deal to you? What are your thoughts? Feel free to comment below.
Photo credit: Flickr User jayhay312