Tag Archives: newspapers

SCOTUS Coverage Mistakes Point to Bigger Issues


By now, almost everyone has heard about the big “goofs” on CNN and Fox News today. And no, I don’t mean Wolf Blitzer and Bill O’Reilly.

Erroneously broadcasting what the Supreme Court ruled did not happen only because CNN and Fox raced to be first with the decision. It happened because the people “reporting” the decision probably shouldn’t have been in that position.

Repeatedly CNN’s reporters and anchor referred to getting the news from a “producer” inside the Supreme Court. I have to wonder about that producer’s background. Was that person REALLY the best person to do the job? Anyone who has taken a law class knows that summarizing a Supreme Court decision is rarely — if ever — easy. One cannot simply read or listen to a few graphs on the first page (or even pages) and grasp the answer. Yet it is difficult not to think that that is precisely what CNN and Fox News did today when covering today’s court decision. We need journalists who are educated and know how to cover their beats. J-School 101: It’s more important to be right that first. You would never see NPR’s Nina Totenberg making this mistake.

I’m not blaming the producer(s) for this either. They probably shouldn’t have been there to begin with, but that’s not their call. I blame a pervasive media system in which the bottom line financially trumps everything, including getting the story right. Experienced, qualified reporters who would not make this mistake cost money. And they may not know social media like Twitter. But they would have gotten the story right and saved companies embarrassment.

I would like to believe that newspapers would not have made a mistake like this. (Yes, I know about Dewey vs. Truman.) When CNN got it wrong, I turned to nytimes.com and got accurate information. Newspapers are more likely to have beat reporters who understand how to cover their stories. With all the job cuts newspapers have faced, there can’t possibly be as many beat reporters as there once were. But at least there are some.

We need good journalists. Period. The CNN/Fox News “mistake” is only a small preview of what’s to come if we as a culture don’t start valuing journalism.

A man who loves his newspaper

This hysterical look at a man who loves his newspaper is on YouTube. Maybe national ads like this would get attention for newspapers …

Multiple platforms mean great journalism on crash

Like many, I’ve been following coverage of the crash of Flight 3407. And like many, I have a special interest — I live an hour from Buffalo, I lived five minutes from the crash site until six months ago, and I know many people in the Buffalo region.

To say I have been impressed with the coverage done by Buffalo journalists would be an understatement. It’s Sunday at 1:40 and the manifest with the names of those aboard Flight 3407 has yet to be released by the airline or the authorities. The Buffalo News, however, has been updating its list of victims since Friday. The list is simply a list of names now because The News has done short vignettes on the victims it knows about. But on Friday, that list inc luded a sentence or two about each victim and was updated throughout the day and night. It was powerful, personal and, it goes without saying, great reporting.

Editor & Publisher noted that “CNN cited updates from the News online reports, starting two hours after the crash.”

How did the News gather all of the information for its stories? Editor Margaret Sullivan told E & P that 50 to 75 people were working the story Friday. Some of those people came about there information the old-fashioned way:  talking to people face to face or working the phones. At least one reporter, Stephen Watson, turned to social media like Facebook and Twitter, where he issued a polite, sensitive request for any information about the victims or family of victims.

The News also did a terrific job with multimedia, putting up photos, videos, audio and slideshows of the people and the crash.

The News was not alone in its stellar coverage of this tragedy. WGRZ-TV Channel 2 in Buffalo, a Gannett company, also did superior work. The channel streamed its broadcast live Friday so those unable to get the Buffalo coverage on their TVs could see and hear what was going on. When I was watching it Friday afternoon, some 5,000 people were watching the streamed broadcast along with me. Amazing. The anchors, Jodi Johnston and Pete Gallivan, spoke directly to the web audience during commercial breaks, often reading comments that were posted online and talking about them.

I cannot close this praise of the work of Buffalo journalists without mentioning WIVB-TV‘s Lisa Flynn‘s insightful, probing questions. She asked at least five questions, all of them wonderful, at yesterday’s press conference with the National Transportation Safety Board, which was aired live here in Rochester, NY.

While I praise these journalists for all their fine work on this tragedy, I’m sure they, like us, would rather they had not had to cover this at all.

Funny NY Times ad spoof

This speaks for itself.