Yes, Even Big Professional Journalism Operations Make Mistakes

from the it-happens dept

For the most part, the way this blog works is that we write stories based on what’s being reported on elsewhere, and add some analysis or opinion or response to the story. Then, we let the discussion happen. We never claim to be complete, and one of the reasons why we leave the comments so wide open is we fully expect people to stop by and fill in more information. That’s why we’re always amused that when we respond to a story where the original source got some facts wrong, some commenters snipe in the comments about our failure to fact check, often with some snide comment about how we’re what’s killing journalism and/or something about how we are biased/covering up the real story, etc. I’ve never quite understood this, because we certainly don’t hide our process. We link to all our sources, and explain our reasoning, and if a story changes, we’re more than willing to post an update, always indicating what’s changed.

But the fact is that all sorts of publications get stories wrong, even the big famous ones. For example, reading through my feeds, I recently saw a Reuters report claiming that the Discovery Channel had sued Amazon for patent infringement on July 14th. That struck me as odd since we had written about that identical thing… but back in March of 2009. Looking at the details, it seemed like all that happened was that Discovery set up its own patent holding subsidiary, Discovery Patents, and assigned the patents to that new organization, who took over the case in a procedural move. Big deal.

And indeed, a few hours later, I reloaded the Reuters story, and the story changed, with the new headline saying Discovery says infringement case v Amazon not new, rather than the original which said “Amazon accused of infringing patents with Kindle.” I find the new headline amusing, because it’s basically saying “hey, we reported on news that wasn’t news.” But, kudos to Reuters for not just disappearing the story, and admitting (sort of) in the story that it got the original story wrong. Of course, it doesn’t fully come out and say it got the story wrong. It just changed the story to now say “Discovery said” that this was just a procedural move, rather than admitting that’s exactly what happened. No need for the he said/she said. You can come out and say what actually happened.

Anyway, we’re certainly not doing this to mock Reuters, which actually does a lot of good reporting. Just to highlight the fact that lots of media publications make a mistake here or there, and it’s no sign of “hiding facts” or “bias.” Sometimes a mistake is just a mistake.

Filed Under: ,
Companies: amazon, discovery, reuters

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Yes, Even Big Professional Journalism Operations Make Mistakes”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

The only problem is:

When yours is one the most bothersome “voices” about someone else’s “mistakes” to those that are so frequently caught with the pants on fire, to find even a hint of a mistake on your part is already a “victory”, even if the mistake is not really yours… LOL

I’d call it human nature, but, I hesitate… It’s probably “Troll Nature” or something even… darker.

Anyway, TD is already an icon and a beacon, that makes it a target, as you know so well… All I can say, take that as a compliment on a job well done.


Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...