POV: "Right" is More Important than "First" in News Coverage (4/18/13)
Late Monday afternoon, although the story of the Boston Marathon bombing was only a few hours old, the amount of misinformation that had already been spread was impressive.
First we were told there had been a third explosion at Boston's JFK Library. Then it turned out there was no third blast.
Next, stories flew about a Saudi man who was being held and interrogated as a suspect at a Boston hospital. But those, too, turned out to be false.
Then on Wednesday, several news outlets reported that a different suspect had been identified and arrested. Except that wasn't true, either.
And this isn't unusual. Remember the man who was named for hours as the Connecticut school shooter, when it was really his brother?
During major breaking news, the pressure is on for every news organization to come up with as much information as possible as fast as possible.
But information isn't enough if there's no knowledge to back it up.
In times of crisis, information is the best antidote to confusion and fear. But only if it's accurate. Non-stop red herrings just confuse the public and make an uneasy situation even worse.
At times like these, the public's appetite for new facts can be voracious. But despite the never-ending race for ratings and readership, responsible news organizations will always value getting the story right over simply getting it first.
I'm Bill Lamb, and that's my…Point of View.