Don't Erase Incorrect News Reports

from the that-just-causes-problems dept

If you've been paying attention to the political blogosphere or any news about the recent horrific attacks in Mumbai, you may have heard the story that made the rounds about a couple supposedly blaming CNN for potentially giving away their location to the terrorists. It was a hit among CNN-haters, and it got picked up by a variety of mainstream sources, including the NY Times. The only problem? The story is totally bogus. It originated in the publication Wales Online, but after CNN reviewed their footage and couldn't find anything to match the story, it asked the site for an explanation... at which point Wales Online admitted that the story was "not valid," blaming the Press Association from which it got the story.

However, as E-Media Tidbits points out, rather than post an update explaining the error, Wales Online took a different approach: it just made the article disappear. If you go to the original link for the story, you just get a blank page. This isn't helping the process of correcting errors. Well after the story was discovered to be a fake, plenty of sources were still repeating it.

Sure, it's embarrassing to make a mistake -- especially one that ends up getting so much attention. But simply "disappearing" the story and pretending it never happened is a dreadful solution. If anything, leave the original story up with a clear retraction placed at the top. Hell, maybe use the experience to explain how it happened and what the publication is doing to prevent similar things from happening in the future. The last thing you should do is just pretend the whole mess never happened in the first place. That just makes Wales Online look even less trustworthy.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2008 @ 1:23pm

    Ahead of the curve

    George Orwell was 24 years ahead of Wales Online. Just make it disappear and pretend it never happened.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    SteveD, 3 Dec 2008 @ 1:34pm

    Re: Ahead of the curve

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Neil, 3 Dec 2008 @ 2:32pm

    Nothing new

    The media rarely retracts anything. Even if it is forced to it buries it somewhere no one will see. They only need it out there for a short time so it can do the internet rounds, by that time the damage is done. I remember watching the birth of one such incorrect story during the London bombings and how it got spread by multiple news sources (none referencing the original of course) and never retracted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2008 @ 4:25pm

    They're Welsh...

    The sheep ate it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Rose M. Welch, 3 Dec 2008 @ 7:00pm

    Real Journalism

    Mike, I am so glad that you're not a 'real journalist', as Techdirt's detractor's always say... I'm rather fond of the updates and glad that you issue retractions on the few occasions that Techdirt needs them...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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