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.