Thursday, March 19, 2009

News organizations struggling with Donte Stallworth revelation

Right now .. new organizations across NE Ohio, including our news leaders here at WKYC, are struggling and discussing how to handle a story that broke a few hours ago in Miami. News organizations there are quoting unidentified sources that Donte Stallworth was over the legal limit when he hit and killed a pedestrian.

Other organizations .. including Ohio.com .. have now picked up the story, which includes a reference to "unconfirmed reports".

The Miami Herald's story seems to have the most attribution (and home video of Stallworth taking a sobriety test) but still can't attach the blood-alcohol tests to a person.

No attribution = no story. At least, that's the way it used to be.

Police might confirm more in the coming hours, but as of this writing, it seems the race-to-be-first is beating the race-to-be-right .. and I guess I'm just as bad for writing it myself .. although a blog generates more latitude and I'm trying to generate discussion here.

Your thoughts?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is a complete example of what is wrong with the media. It is no longer factual, researched and correct. It is the race to publish and fix it later.

As a result of this new focus of the media, it is no longer taken seriously and should not be upset at the fact is looked on in that light

Anonymous said...

The Beacon Journal stopped worrying about facts years ago. They can print lies all the want as long as they attribute them to someone else. It's sad, really, as these lies hae a way of becoming truth after a while.

Anonymous said...

Never let the race to be first over-ride the race to be right. Your audience won't remember weeks from now whether or not you were first. They will remember for a long time if you get something wrong.

Didn't anyone learn anything from the premature reporting of the death of Congresswoman Tubbs-Jones?

Vince

Chris H. said...

Headline of the day ... during one of your competitors "cut-ins" on the Stallworth situation.

"Stallworth legally drunk"

vanillacokehead said...

Michael Fleming of "Variety" has an excellent look at how the internet in general and bloggers in particular have exacerbated the whole journalistic issue of "getting it first" vs. "getting it right":

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118001493.html?categoryid=1009&cs=1&nid=2562

He uses as one example the media maelstrom leading up to Natasha Richardson's tragic death last week.

I agree with him that the 24 hour news cycle of the internet and the eagerness of many bloggers to break news rather than slow down and wait for confirmation is "lowering the bar" for many other news organizations and media outlets.

If you think about it, Eric, this situation isn't dissimilar to the way many software companies, pressed to meet announced deadlines, will release a software package with some known flaws then fix said flaws later with "service packs" or patches or upgrades. Many web sites are in an almost perpetual status of "beta" and are works in progress.

Problem is that computers can just swap out the old code for new code and move on. Humans, like elephants, have long memories and don't as easily forget erroneous information or allegations.

When I taught computer classes in the Seattle area a while ago, one of my classes was about browsing the web. The first piece of advice I'd give to my students entailed relating the old saying "you can't believe everything you read in the newspaper" - and urging them to multiply that by five or 10 with things read online.

buck said...

I can't believe the Plain Dealer as well as the Miami paper posted the video of the paramedics working on the guy on the street. You can see his arm on the road.