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Bill Bennett


Incorrect tweets trump corrections

In the first of his eight simple rules for accurate journalism at the Columbia Journalism Review Craig SIlverman writes: “Initial, mistaken information will be retweeted more than any subsequent correction”.

He calls this the Law of Incorrect Tweets.

Silverman says people are more likely to retweet or like a false news report than pay attention to corrections.

Journalists make mistakes

Mistakes are inevitable with news at the best of time. Pressure to get stories out fast make it hard to confirm facts and properly double-check sources. This is especially true with today’s depopulated newsrooms.

Twitter makes it harder again. There’s even more pressure on journalists to be first with a report and the nature of tweeting doesn’t lend itself to reflective self-editing.

There’s a modern news culture of quickly pushing half-baked stories out to beat competitors.

Speed isn’t of the essence, accuracy is

Later in his piece Silverman makes the point: readers will forget who was first with a story, they will remember who got it wrong. He’s right.

Much as it goes against the grain to say this, scoops are not everything in news reporting. Being the most credible, reliable source for readers is a far better goal.



One thought on “Incorrect tweets trump corrections

  1. Totally agree, Bill. Accuracy is everything. Far better to have your competitor out first with a wrong or poorly researched story. The trouble is that too many publications don’t have journalists; they have reporters who simply write whatever the subject tells them, rather than asking questions that might arise in the minds of potential readers. They don’t read their own copy afterwards and ask themselves, “What does this piece say or not say?” before publishing it.

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