When news breaks, media organizations race to inform their readers, viewers and listeners. But sometimes, the frantic scramble to report the news can take a toll on the quality and accuracy of the reporting.
A cringeworthy example is unfolding today after CNN's inaccurate reporting on the landmark U.S. Supreme Court health care ruling. At 10:14 a.m., the news agency issued a breaking news alert to all of its subscribers that the Supreme Court had "struck down the individual mandate for health care..."
Less than 10 minutes later, CNN issued a correction, stating that, in fact, the Supreme Court "backs all parts of President Obama's signature health care law..."
The network also reported the false information online and on its live television broadcast. Reports suggest that the Fox network also reported on its website that key provisions of the health care law had been struck down.
Now, CNN's goof has gone viral.
It's hard to understate the gravity of this sort of error, particularly considering the story is one of the biggest issues facing the U.S. But it's hardly the first time the media has made an embrassassing error. In 2010, several media outlets reported that former NHL coach Pat Burns had died. The reports turned out to be inaccurate and the outlets were forced to retract the stories.
No matter how frantic the situation, confirming the facts and reporting them accurately should always be more important than being first out of the gate.