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.