One Bad Egg

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I have always had two general rules– Never report rumor as fact and it isn't fact unless there are two sources. One blog didn't adhere to the same rule and that made us all look bad.

A source is valuable. Facts make good stories. Rumors and conjecture hurt people and reputations.  How did this breakdown affect Burnt Orange Report? Simple. The rumor started at one national site and was picked up on Drudge.  As a general rule, I never take Drudge too seriously.  Drudge has always been more about a scoop than a story, so I looked for another source.

Alas, CNN.com put up a banner confirming the Politico story.  I had my two sources.

We put up a story announcing Sen. Edward would be withdrawing from the race, and we had a great breaking story.  As the press conference starts it became clear that Politico was not only wrong, but they were completely off base.  Edwards announced the worst news, Elizabeth's cancer had returned. The catch was that Edwards was not withdrawing from the race. In fact, he stood steadfast and looked more decisive than he had in some time.

In the end we are sorry for relaying bad reporting.  What this shows us, is that blogs can help make rumors truth.  I applaud Politico and their apology.  But the fallout can be too big for an “oops, sorry”.Blogging is a dynamic medium. Rather simply write a new post, we updated our original post to ensure that people who read part of a story received all the facts.  We have loyal readers who corrected us in our error– thank you.  What is more important isn't how we respond to error, but what happens when such a dynamic error occurs. As I write this, over 94,100 hits on the search, “Edwards Suspends Campaign”.

Call it citizen journalism, bloggerism, an online magazines, what ever you want, but the ever expanding online community is effecting what is reported.  If we fail to act responsibly, blogging has no value.  We are relegated to nothing more than a glorified  rumor mill. 

This bad blogging has further proven that we have arrived, but it has also shown how much responsibility we bare now.

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3 Comments

  1. Good call, Matt..
    I've been very careful about which sources I trust…and politico.com has always appeared to be a more “grapevine” type of website, just like hill.com and of course Drudge (which is more of a mix-and-match of links to news stories, gossip, columns, etc)….

    We always have to be careful to verify everything we see or hear….

  2. NPR had a story on blogging this afternoon
    And a part of the story touched on this very issue. Very much worth a listen/read – especially for fans of TPM Muckraker.

    And, as Josh says, the key graf:

    New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen says that this is the direction some blogs are pushing in: original reporting fueled by the talents and efforts of their readership. How do you trust readers to do a reporters job? Rosen says you wait and see.

    “If it holds up over time, we trust it. If other people looking at the same material get the same results, well, that suggests we can trust it,” Rosen says. “If mistakes are made and are caught quickly and corrected by the same people who are making them, that says maybe this system can be trusted.”

  3. In Defense of BOR
    MSNBC had the same headline…  Plus, in this instance, I don't think it actually created ANY harm whatsoever…  noone instantly canceled their checks and signed on with a new campaign! 🙂 

    You all are doing a heck of a job and are right far more often than are wrong.  I, for one, am fine with a blog taking liberties to break a story first, so long as you have two reliable sources I say go for it… let the mainstream media sit on these stories for far too long.

    Rush Limbaugh certainly doesn't wait for a fact check/apologize for being incorrect.  Blogs serve the same purpose as conservative talk radio, so why should you have to?

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