Let's Forgive Fox, CNN for Jumping the Gun

Jack Shafer: 'Stop smirking, it could happen to you'
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 29, 2012 12:25 PM CDT
Let's Forgive Fox, CNN for Jumping the Gun
This television frame grab shows CNN broadcasting the Supreme Court's decision on President Barack Obama's health care law on Thursday, June 28, 2012.   (AP Photo)

It's fair to mock Fox News and CNN for incorrectly reporting that the individual health mandate had been struck down; after all, organizations that brag about being quick should face consequences when they're wrong. But in the end, "I forgive CNN and Fox for their breaking news transgressions," writes media critic Jack Shafer at Reuters. The truth is, journalists have their "preconceptions": They "carry wads of pre-baked story dough to almost every breaking news story, whether it be a terrorist attack on a city or the scheduled release of a Supreme Court decision."

And those preconceptions are necessary, to an extent: "Blank slates make awful reporters." But journalists need to be aware of these notions so that they don't make errors like yesterday's. Those reporters may have been "overinvested in preconceptions about the outcome and jumped on the first confirmation they saw," Shafer writes. And to all those gloating rivals: "Stop smirking, it could happen to you, buster." If it does, issue a prompt correction, as CNN did, rather than pulling a Fox and saying your updates make up for the mistake. (Jon Stewart wasn't nearly so forgiving.)

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