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"Breaking" News

Wednesday, Jan. 04, 2006 12:20 AM

A sad reminder of how the drive for immediacy and the breaking story can be counter to good, solid reporting.

CNN's website at 12:15 AM PST, with the erroneous headline.

Several media outlets, through their web pages and RSS feeds, reportted that twelve of the thirteen trapped miners in West Virginia had been found alive.

Sadly, they were wrong. Only one man survived.

Unfortunately, the families were also told the wrong story, eliciting celebration and tears of joy that quickly turned sour, then angry.

I have worked in television news for nearly 20 years. I've been there for earthquakes, papal visits, presidential elections, terrorist attacks, and several crime scenes.

It's not that I'm expecting news to be perfect; we aren't.

But we need to recognize immediacy as both a boon and a bane, and so do our consumers.

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