It would be too easy to blame one outlet for making a hash out of the Amanda Knox verdict last night.
No matter how egregious, silly and irresponsible it may have been, other outlets were just as responsible for the core mistake of getting it wrong. To blame one would miss the real story.
I wonder if the new-era of live bloggers and online journalists are akin to the cold war-era stereotype of the president, one hand on the red button, sweat dripping down their brow and always ready to launch.
When everyone gets it wrong, to varying degrees maybe, there is a more endemic problem.
The first thing you’re taught, hell, before you’re even taught anything, is that the paramount task of journalism is getting the story right. Now it might not be the simplest to do, but it’s the most essential.
Speed is important, yes. But it is not the most important and should never be. No point in getting the story first, only to have it taken down, or to run a correction.
In fact, it’s not even about you, about if the story was first and if your paper had the first tweet or the first splash. It’s about getting the right information out there. Journalism is a public service, and breaking news is pure information.
Sure, probably, but I’d like to think that consumers of media still remember and appreciate where the most accurate and reliable information comes from – even if it’s not the quickest.
At the same time, you lose the trust of people about as quick as you start peddling misinformation.
None of the excuses from last night were viable.
Everyone probably had two stories available and this isn’t the first time someone accidentally published something they shouldn’t have.
Remember 4:30 p.m. on August 28, 2008 when Bloomberg accidentally published their obituary of Apple CEO Steve Jobs? It was shared to over a thousand of their clients over the wire, and included pre-reported and gathered quotes about Jobs.
When you get it wrong, it’s wrong in real-time. Digital journalism is very much a double-edged sword, and Twitter is the check and balance to the immediacy and subsequent misinformation perpetuated by the Internet age.
We are media consumers and media workers that have become slaves to the immediate demands of the information, iPhone, digital – whatever era.
If the future is a pay wall – then who wants to pay for speedy, but incorrect information? No matter how much we refine the tools for digital storytelling, these tools are still controlled by us, and until we’re all replaced by algorithms and robots, we’re always going to be at fault.
The boldest reporters of this so-called Internet O.K. Corral in the Wild West of Journalism are the ones that take their time. The ones that aren’t afraid to be last, behind the pack, but always right.
The reporter I look up to, and want to be, is the one that puts accuracy first and being first – second.
Patience has always been a virtue. And the tortoise always beats the hare.
But what does everyone else think? Speed? Accuracy? Is it even a viable debate? Comment or tweet us @wannabehacks
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After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look