Check it out

Social media and the rush to be first muddies the accuracy of news

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The hoax perpetrated on the Associated Press this week is a wake-up call, not just for the media but for the nation.

Someone hacked into an AP Twitter account and tweeted an alarming, but completely false, report on Tuesday of two bombings at the White House that had supposedly injured President Obama.

Again, the report was an absolute concoction. But since it appeared to come from the Associated Press, the “news” rattled the stock market, which temporarily fell 143 points after the fake report. Markets recovered nicely, but the reaction is as disturbing as the bogus story.

It’s truly frightening that our financial sector, and perhaps others as well, are so vulnerable to phony-baloney news reports.

Being in the news business, we know well, and are sympathetic to, both the value and the danger of breaking news. We also know that everyone wants to be first. And today’s social media platforms allow us to circumvent traditional filters to get immediate word to the public about breaking events.

Being first can be overrated, though – while being right can be undervalued.

News agencies across the country will have to evaluate whether the benefit of “tweeting” breaking news is worth the risk.

Everyone with a smart phone or computer, obviously, should consider slowing down and rethinking what they’re putting out in social media. Celebrities, politicians and others in the limelight almost have a routine down: Tweet, then apologize. A Google News search pulls up a number of such stories.

But news agencies have a special obligation to get it right.

In this case, AP did nothing wrong, and in fact was a victim; it had its Twitter account hijacked. Maybe the policy needs to be no breaking news via social media – and perhaps the policy needs to be publicized, so everyone knows to take tweets and posts with a grain of salt.

The caution involves more than social media, though. CNN’s John King apologized this week for bad information aired last week that indicated a Boston bombing suspect had been arrested, when that wasn’t the case at all. Other media outlets went with the bad information too.

There’s an adage in the news business, from the now-defunct City News Bureau of Chicago, that said, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

Likewise, if you see something atwitter on Twitter, check that out too.

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Jon Lester
Jon Lester 04/27/13 - 03:22 am
Americans would do well to develop healthy skepticism

in most regards, I think. Contrary to what the Texas state school board thinks about it, "critical thinking" ought to be promoted in our core educational standards.

Riverman1 04/27/13 - 05:05 am
Mainstream and Local Media

Many of us learned a long time ago to be skeptical of the mainstream media. Never before have the inaccuracies and half truths, usually in favor of this Democratic administration, been more obvious. Locally, we have to determine if there is an ulterior motive of the particular media giving us a story because there often is.

rmwhitley 04/27/13 - 08:49 am

U.P.I.? There once was a counterbalance to the A.P.'s leftwing reporting. The mainstream media no longer report facts but biased opinions.

soapy_725 04/27/13 - 08:50 am
War of the Worlds Oct 1938

Radio broadcast of a novel by H.G. Wells caused nationwide panic in America. People ran the streets crying and repenting of their sins. Maybe the last reaction would not be bad for today's News Addicts?

faithson 04/27/13 - 09:45 am
usually in favor...

balderdash... this type of one sided thinking is what is tearing this country apart at the seams. Ever listen to Rush, 10 minutes will put this claim in the trash heap. Healthy skeptisism is a good thing on both sides.
On to another point... all you people who have money in the stock market should take account of what happened here... alogrithams in computer trading caused this event. Trading by computer is instantaneous, while real people's decisions take 'time'. You do realize that if the 'big one' comes... it will your money that will be 'lost', not the big fund companies, who can get out in an instant.

GiantsAllDay 04/27/13 - 10:28 am
I had something witty to say,

I had something witty to say, but ACES told me to think before I hit the send button.

t3bledsoe 04/27/13 - 11:32 am
Political power too involved in stock market

Clearly there is much, much preceived involvement in the stock market where politics is concerned. I do understand some political involvement in making financial decisions, but there is clearly too much of this currently. How do you change the mind-set of the average stock trader?

mooseye 04/27/13 - 11:57 am
I just wish I had

had my finger on the "buy" button when it happened!

nocnoc 04/27/13 - 07:26 pm
Given that we have already

Given that we have already heard this month that those owners of EVIL Smartphones could take control of a plane in flight, railroad engines, traffic lights, nuclear rectors, our power grid and more.

Have we reached the point were we will need laws requiring people to register Smart Phones and submit to a required background check for ownership, and operation? Then limit where they can be operated and how they can be used?

It seems based on all the stories coming from the FCC, FBI, NTSB, NYSE, CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX, MS-NBC and The DHS, this where THEY are headed.

Hopefully private owner sells and Phone Shows will not affected.☻

Gage Creed
Gage Creed 04/27/13 - 11:51 pm
nocnoc... I know a guy that

nocnoc... I know a guy that knows a guy that can get you a fully unlocked smartphone... no background or credit check required!

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