LANE: Rapid-fire falsehoods in early reporting
Published: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 5:36 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 5:36 p.m.
‘‘Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it,
Yes, the truth finally limped along later. Still, the false accusation compounded Ryan
Many say we need a post-Newtown
On Jan. 8, 2011, NPR and others mistakenly reported that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had been killed in a shooting rampage that did claim six lives.
On July 20, 2012, Brian Ross of ABC suggested that the shooter in the Aurora movie theater massacre belonged to the Colorado tea party; Ross had confused the actual killer, James Holmes, with another person of that name who popped up on an Internet search.
Initial reporting on the Dec. 11 shooting at a Portland, Ore., shopping mall included inflated body counts, inaccurate descriptions of the suspect and bogus rumors of multiple gunmen.
Something has to be done about this problem, too.
Like gun enthusiasts, we journalists have our very own section in the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment. And, not unlike the Second Amendment crowd, we tend to view complaints about misuse and abuse of our favorite freedom as a threat to it.
Reporters can also claim, quite legitimately, that we rush to correct our errors, which are often the errors of our sources, passed on by us in good faith. Certainly those defenses are available to media that named Ryan Lanza as the Newtown shooter; the story was corrected later, and it did indeed originate with law enforcement.
And by the way, I don’t trust the cops
In 1989, New York City detectives said a group of black teenagers had confessed to raping and beating
Like the freedom to own a gun, the latitude to publish a defendant’s full name, prior to conviction, is less sacrosanct in Europe than in the United States. In 2008, German media initially referred to notorious Austrian child abuser and rapist Josef Fritzl as
Such norms are no more readily imported than European gun laws.
Just as the revolver has given way to the rapid-fire Glock pistol, modern technology enables the media, our sources and our audience to communicate, accurately and inaccurately, with breathtakingly sudden impact.
Journalism doesn’t need new laws to adapt
Among the reputations we save may be our own.
Charles Lane is a member of
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