Media Dig Themselves Out of a Hole

I’m sure you’ve all heard about a little mistake almost all media outlets made on Tuesday when they announced 12 miners trapped in a Virginia mine were found alive. Instead, only one survived. Today, the media has come out in full force to defend themselves. This isn’t a Canadian-centric story and doesn’t deserve much play on this site, but I thought I should link some sources for those of you who want to find out more about the media covering themselves.

CBS news has a typical “seriously, it wasn’t our fault” article. There are countless like this one, but this example has a great photo at the top, so I included it.

The New York Times has a good article about how other media outlets dealt with an erroneous story. Apparently, the correct story broke after most papers went to print. Note: This story does a poor job of mentioning that the New York Times did not stop the presses (unlike the LA Times and the New York Post) and instead ran with the incorrect, positive story, delivering it in print, on the web and in electronic newsletters. The story was made right early yesterday morning on the web, but readers were not alerted to it until this morning’s paper and electronic newsletters.

Jay Rosen has some good commentary on the PressThink blog (he doesn’t have permalink, so you may have to scroll down if he’s posted again.)

Update: As Jay Rosen himself has posted in these comments, I’m a moron and didn’t scroll down far enough when I tried to find a permalink. Click here for his commentary (sorry Jay!).

Regret the Error has a good timeline on how this story developed. The site also links to an Editor and Publisher blog, but I’ll let you find that from the RTE site.

More than anything, this story shows how different outlets deal with making a mistake. The NYT/NYP example shows that even in the same city, one paper managed to find their mistake and correct it (at great expense – they had to get the delivery crews to replace 43,000 already-delivered papers, according to the NYT). Other papers, especially the NYT, really dropped the ball.

But, then again, it’s been kind of a bad week for the NYT…


This is the best Canadian angle I could find on this story. The Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and National post all ran with the second, incorrect AP wire story. Another drawback to continually allowing wire copy to replace actual reporting, though I’m not sure it would have helped in this case. The CBC did send a reporter (or hired freelance, I’m not sure) to Virginia, and had accurate information on CBC Radio and Newsworld.

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