- 3 Oct 08, 18:01 GMT
To what degree are mainstream media organisations responsible when they publish reports from bloggers or comments from viewers which turn out to be untrue?
The dangers of citizen journalism were graphically illustrated today when CNN published an inaccurate report from someone who claimed that Apple's boss Steve Jobs had been rushed to hospital after suffering a heart attack. Apple's shares dived in the minutes after the report was published. Here's what the piece said:
"Steve Jobs was rushed to the ER just a few hours ago after suffering a major heart attack. I have an insider who tells me that paramedics were called after Steve claimed to be suffering from severe chest pains and shortness of breath. My source has opted to remain anonymous, but he is quite reliable. I haven't seen anything about this anywhere else yet, and as of right now, I have no further information, so I thought this would be a good place to start. If anyone else has more information, please share it."
The report was not on CNN's TV channels or on its website but on iReport.com, which the cable news channel runs as a forum for anyone who wants to come and give news and views about anything.The slogan at the top of the site reads: "Unedited.Unfiltered.News."
When I contacted CNN, a spokeswoman was keen to stress that this was not their content - and it had been removed as quickly as possible. Here's the statement they sent me:
This kind of rumour would never be published or aired without checking by a major newspaper or broadcaster. But mainstream media organisations - including the BBC - are all under pressure to have a more open relationship with their readers and viewers, to prove that they "get" the Web 2.0 world.
The border between professional and amateur journalism is getting more blurred. But if a professional news organisation publishes an inaccurate piece by an amateur journalist, whose reputation suffers?
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