Why CNN and Fox News’ gaffes over health care ruling are causing more serious look at social media

The debate goes on and will for some time about social media vs. mainstream as trustworthy sources of news. Let alone preferred or more used. But the problems that some mainstream outlets had in misreporting the Supreme Court ruling on ObamaCare is revealing.

Here’s the take from Mashable on this important subject titled why the Twittercycle trumps the traditional news cycle. The mistakes of CNN and FOX recall “Gore Wins Florida” and “Dewey Defeats Truman.” One might expect a leader in online communications such as Mashable to exhibit a bit of triumphalism in this latest display of mainstream media failure.

I’m currently reading David Westin’s (former head of ABC News) excellent memoir, Exit Interview. Truth is, I have more respect and appreciation for the mainstream outlets and the severe challenge the internet poses. Westin was in charge when ABC along with other major news outlets put out the Gore Wins message in error, then corrected it by saying Bush wins, then having to retract that and admit: we don’t know. His reflections on speed vs. accuracy in time of intense competition is very valuable–yet reveals no real answers:

“The problem is that it’s not only about getting it right; it’s also about getting it first if humanly possible. And the two are often at war with each other.”

But he admits the high price media paid for getting it wrong in 2000:

“We paid a price in our credibility with the American public. A month after the election Gallup conducted a poll in which almost two-thirds of Americans said they found that ‘news organizations’ stories and reports are often inaccurate’…Nine years later a Pew study similarly found less than 30 percent of American’s believed that news organizations got their facts straight, while 63 percent said that news stories were often inaccurate.”

But “everyone knows what you read on the Internet is wrong.” It may be true, but when someone on the Internet gets it wrong, there are a few billion standing ready and oh so eager to correct them.

 

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