None of this has ever been easy. It’s a journalistic truism that the earliest reports of a major news story, whether a mass shooting or natural disaster, are likely to contain errors, sometimes serious ones. As Rebecca Greenfield detailed in an Atlantic article, “The Media Was Always Bad at Reporting Breaking News, a Brief History, that problem goes back way before Twitter — to JFK’s assassination, to the sinking of the Titanic, and to Dewey supposedly defeating Truman.
That’s bad enough.
But when you stir in the toxins of today’s politics, the lightning speed of social media and bad-faith amplification by powerful figures, the mixture is disastrous.
Breaking-news reporters don’t have the luxury of slowing down their newsgathering, but they can avoid amplifying misinformation.