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In Twitter Age, Is it More Important to be First or Right?

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Within our modern media landscape that features a 24-hour news cycle and an ever widening variety of sources reporting news both in print and electronically, is it currently more important to be right or first when it comes to reporting a story?

This issue was once again brought to the forefront Tuesday when Yahoo! Sports broke the news that former University of Southern California running back Reggie Bush was expected to be stripped of the Heisman Trophy he won in 2005 by the end of the month. Yahoo! Sports reported this story early Tuesday morning but by the end of the day, William J. Dockery, President of the Heisman Trust told the well listened to national radio show, the Dan Patrick Show, that the decision Yahoo! was reporting had in fact not been made.

Since Tuesday, the key issue surrounding this story has for many moved away from whether in fact Bush will lose his trophy, and instead become whether Yahoo! should have waited and spoken to the Heisman Trust before breaking such a significant piece of news. Yahoo! has stood by their original story.

This however, is far from the first time this kind of ethical question has been raised within the world of new sports media. Just last week, Mike Wise of the Washington Post attempted to prove a similar point about how many reporters often use Twitter without fact checking. On Twitter, Wise completely made up and then reported the believable story that Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension from the NFL would be reduced to five games after a meeting with the commissioner. Wise then watched as several respected media sources ran with the story as if it were true without ever checking if that indeed was the case. Although Wise was subsequently suspended for one month by his employer for breaking the public’s trust, his point was certainly proven. In an attempt to report a story as soon as possible, modern media outlets often overlook accuracy in order to be first or among the first to break news.

In a perfect world, few would argue that news stories should be reported both quickly and accurately. However in our flawed modern media landscape, if only one facet or reporting is to be accomplished, which one should take precedent? As of now, it certainly appears that for better or worse the media has chosen the former.

-Sam Benjamin


Written by sambenjamin7

September 10, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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