CNN’s Big Oops, or Why You Shouldn’t Press Send So Quickly

As big news rolled in today that President Obama’s healthcare mandate had been given a thumbs up by the Supreme Court, two major news outlets made just a tiny mistake…

For Fox, this was wishful thinking. For CNN, this was a major embarrassment.

Both Fox and CNN sent out email notifications and posted on their websites that the health care mandate examined by the Supreme Court this morning had been unapproved. Realizing their mistakes, they sent out a correction immediately, but that didn’t stop a dozen Dewey-themed memes from popping up online.

A perfect depiction of our times. Photo Illustration by Gary He (Yahoo)

I already expected this kind of thing from Fox, but not from CNN. When Osama Bin Laden’s death was announced, their webpage read for a full 10 minutes “Obama Bin Laden Confrimed Dead.”

Ten minutes might not seem like a long time, but in the market of rapid-fire journalism, it is. 10 minutes is, like, 150 tweets in my twitter cue. Trust me, I just timed it. 148 new stories, updates, links and more after 10 minutes of idling.

In this world of 15-tweets-a-minute journalism, maybe we should show CNN a little mercy; anyone can make the mistake of hitting “send” on the wrong story. We put a lot of pressure on our press to give us the stories we want now, and maybe shouldn’t expect great accuracy when we’re so busy complaining about how we can’t get news fast enough to skim it and pretend to know what’s going on.

Then again, isn’t CNN partly to blame for the automatic, flash-fast journalism to which we’re addicted? They’re part of the elite group that started it and got us hooked to the drug of immediate newsflashes. This, in my mind, makes them more accountable than other news organizations when it comes to giving us the news the right way. They made us this way; we as readers are the monsters to their Frankenstein.

CNN has a reputation of being the up-to-the-minute place for news, constantly updated  by some of the industry’s best and brightest. And yet, the lust for getting it out first conquered the obligation to getting it out right. It can happen to anyone, I guess, but that doesn’t mean it should.


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