Friday, September 17, 2010

Dead right

Former National Hockey League coach Pat Burns has joined the long list of people whose obituaries have been published prematurely.
"They're trying to kill me before I'm dead," The Canadian Press quotes Burns as telling TSN columnist Bob McKenzie.
Yes, Burns is ill. But he's not dead yet.
Other victims of premature obituaries include Ronald Reagan and Bob Hope.
Many news media have prepared obituaries of important people for use when the time comes. And to hockey fans, Pat Burns is an important guy.
Today, with retweeting and other methods of instantly circulating information whether it is right or wrong, it is more important than ever to obey Rule No. 1 in journalism.
Get it first, but first get it right.

1 comment:

  1. With blogs and platforms like Twitter giving everyone the opportunity to spread "news," some observers have been predicting the death of professional journalism.

    I think stories like this one show why and how journalism will thrive: sure, anyone can claim to deliver news, but audiences need to know whom to believe.

    Actual journalists (should) check the veracity of facts before publishing them; as a result, their reports are (or should be) credible, and audiences gravitate toward them (for example, CNN's Anderson Cooper has 685,000+ Twitter followers).

    If journalists are going to retain (and build) audiences, they have to be providing something better than what can be had on the nearest unedited blog or Twitter feed; as you point out, verified facts are job number one.