Breaking News is Broken »

Farhad Manjoo at Slate:

Break­ing news is bro­ken. That’s the clear­est les­son you can draw about the media from the last week, when both old- and new-media out­lets fell down on the job. By now you’ve like­ly heard the low­lights. CNN and the AP incor­rect­ly report­ed on Wednes­day that a Boston Marathon sus­pect had been arrest­ed. Peo­ple on Red­dit and edi­tors at the New York Post wrong­ly fin­gered inno­cent kids as bomb­ing sus­pects. Red­di­tors also pushed the the­o­ry that a Brown Uni­ver­si­ty stu­dent who has been miss­ing for more than a month was one of the bombers—a story that gained steam on Twit­ter Thurs­day when peo­ple lis­ten­ing to police scan­ners heard the cops repeat the stu­dent’s name. Though every­one should have been care­ful to dis­miss chat­ter heard over the scan­ner, few did. Caught up in the excite­ment of break­ing news, I was one of many jour­nal­ists who retweet­ed news that the Brown stu­dent was one of the sus­pects—a fact which, in the morn­ing, I feel absolute­ly ter­ri­ble about. Peo­ple on Red­dit feel ter­ri­ble about it too, though now the dam­age to his rep­u­ta­tion has been done. (Although I’m choos­ing not to men­tion his name here, that’s not going to accom­plish very much—it’s already been stained.)

As a Media and Communication major, I have strong feelings on this topic. I should work to get some coherent thoughts up on the site, but haven’t yet had a chance. Manjoo’s piece —which I still have some issues with— partially gets to the heart of the problem.

What he misses is the fact that large corporations run most of our media, and thus, put their interests —read ad revenue — above all else. Being first is most important. Being accurate is a distant second. And don’t get me started on how the media frames what’s “okay” to say on national television.

Yeah, I should get working on a longer piece.