WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Breaking News – Accuracy be Damned

May 3, 2016

In the rush to be first, several Chicago media outlets got it wrong when reporting on the sentence for former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL).

Media critic Robert Feder reported WGN-TV compounded the mistake by sticking with the incorrect information for nearly an hour.

Shop Talk panelist Jasmine Crighton is shocked that someone working behind the scenes at WGN didn’t realize a mistake had been made. Crighton said producers typically keep an eye on the competition and social media, so she finds it ludicrous that it took so long for WGN to correct its story.

Crighton said she’s seen reporters screw up breaking news time and time again.  She’s disappointed journalists don’t do a better job.

Panelist Rich Egger questioned why news outlets were in a rush to be first.  Egger said no one in the audience remembers if a station reported a story ten seconds before anyone else.  He also said viewers are likely to turn to their favorite news source for details, no matter which station first reported a story.

Panelist Jonathan Ahl agreed that viewers don’t remember who reported a story first – but they will remember when a station blew its credibility by getting a story wrong.

Ahl said this story should serve as a reminder for all journalists. But he has no doubt something similar will happen again – and again after that. He pointed out WGN-TV once reported breaking news about what appeared to be a plane crash in the city when, in fact, it was a set for a movie or TV show.