WAN-IFRA

A publication of the World Editors Forum

Date

Fri - 19.09.2014


A tweet too soon: Bloomberg accidentally breaks news of Santorum’s campaign decision

A tweet too soon: Bloomberg accidentally breaks news of Santorum’s campaign decision

Yesterday, Bloomberg reporters such as TV host Emily Chang and news editor Sarah Rabil tweeted that US Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum dropped out of the running, citing The Washington Post as their source, according to The Huffington Post. As expected, the story spread like wildfire on Twitter. The problem? The Washington Post hadn’t published the story online yet—journalists were still waiting for confirmation from the Santorum campaign, the article said.

According to a Bloomberg spokesperson, Bloomberg received the news through The Washington Post’s syndication wire, the article said. Although the story was accurate, The Post was quick to deny the report on Twitter, the article said.

“Washington Post is NOT reporting that Santorum is dropping out,” a tweet from reporter Aaron Blake read. “We have NOT reported this, despite tweets to the contrary.”

After finally publishing the piece, a spokesperson from The Washington Post explained that the unfinished story was sent to Bloomberg in error, according to HuffPo: “The draft story was not intended to be published until we confirmed that Santorum was suspending his campaign. The draft was inadvertently sent to Bloomberg, with whom The Post has a partnership, through an automated feed. It was not published on our Web site until the news had been confirmed.”

Although the Bloomberg/Post mishap may have been just a simple accident, it calls attention to the dangers of inadvertently uploading content that hasn’t been verified or edited, as well as to the rapidity of the modern news cycle.

In another recent online mistake, techPresident Editorial Director Micah L. Sifry unintentionally published an unfinished article that questioned whether Bob Woodward’s portrayal of Yale student journalists’ papers was accurate, Poynter reported. NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen also speculated in the article that Woodward’s comments were “distorted,” Poynter said.

In an apology, Sifry wrote, “I have egg on my face, since the story was not finished when it was accidentally published, and I was in the process of tracking down various participants for their comments.”

Poynter reported that Woodward said the incident verified the notion that the Internet is a less-than-reliable tool for journalists, stating, “This only increases my distress about the Internet, and this rush to say anything.”

As the news cycle continues to accelerate and reporters feel increased pressure to break scoops as quickly as possible, it becomes more of an imperative for journalists to closely monitor what and when they post. If verification practices and online editing take as much precedence as actually breaking the news, errors such as these can hopefully be avoided in the future.

Sources: The Huffington Post, Twitter, Poynter, techPresident 1, 2, The Washington Post

Author

Gianna Walton's picture

Gianna Walton

Date

2012-04-11 17:53

The World Editors Forum is the organization within the World Association of Newspapers devoted to newspaper editors worldwide. The Editors Weblog (www.editorsweblog.org), launched in January 2004, is a WEF initiative designed to facilitate the diffusion of information relevant to newspapers and their editors.


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