Showing posts with label CNN. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CNN. Show all posts

Friday, June 29

Breaking News: Dewey Still Beats Truman

The famously inaccurate banner, Dewey Defeats Truman, lives again as CNN is the first to break the news on the Supreme Court health care story. It was the first outlet to have a story at the ready.

Unfortunately for CNN, it was the wrong news. It was corrected only after 5-10 minutes of commentary on its television programming and thousands of people were prompted to read the headline: "Mandate struck down." Some even received news prompts on their mobile devices, feeling a pang of elation or disgust depending on where they stood on the issue.

But whatever they felt was replaced by a momentary lapse of reason and confusion. Whether they believed the headline or not, they were about to discover it was wrong. And in the weeks that follow, they might consider the broader ramifications of what this means beyond a chuckle.

Accuracy is the first rule of journalism and it just doesn't exist.

Eyeballs matter more, even when the news is reported wrong. In fact, it seems very unlikely the person responsible will be fired. They are likely to get a raise. The traffic, links, and mentions drove more traffic and attention to CNN, not less. And most people will forget about it, much like most don't even know who Dewey might have been.


In fact, technically, the media is calling the Supreme Court decision upheld. However, it wasn't upheld on the grounds the government had argued for. The government cannot may you buy a product you do not want or need. It can, however, tax you for not buying that product or service. Go figure.


This isn't the only time CNN or news organizations have been wrong about their interpretations. Jeffrey Toobin, CNN senior legal analyst, originally surmised it would be a 8-1 decision in favor of the bill. Linda Greenhouse with the New York Times aggressively argued the position that the mandate did not exceed Congressional powers.

It seems pretty clear now that both were wrong. The decision was 5-4 and the the Supreme Court was pointed in saying that the mandate could not be tied to the commerce clause. While the decision still expands the power of government, especially the power held by the Internal Revenue Service (the bureau charged with collecting the fees) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (the bureau that eventually decides what health care you will get).

The problem with the reporting, of course, was the result of reading the first few pages of the decision rather than reading the entire opinion before reporting it. The reporting of speculation, on the other hand, was simply a case of people using the news to support a particular position or idea a.k.a. affirmation media that delivers exactly what people want to hear while swaying others too.

The media has to get a handle on what it wants to be. 

Nowadays, business owners and executives would be better off reading social media sentiment analysis than relying on the news to make decisions. The reason is simple enough. Without objective reporting, you can never be sure of the facts or how people will react to the various biased stories.

I don't mean the single error by CNN and other news outlets. I mean everything leading up to it and everything that will follow. The mistaken headline and knee jerk reaction is just a symptom of a greater problem. When the media can no longer be trusted to tell the truth or get it right, it fails to be relevant.

What this country needs now, perhaps more than ever, is a media outlet that restores objective journalism as its central idea. It might even be the right time, given the existing media outlets people turn to the most are failing to separate what constitutes news and what constitutes political opinion or two sets of talking heads.

Or, borrowing from a different example I shared several years ago, we need reporters who will do the hard work. Instead of talking to two people to get their opinions on whether or not a flag flapping in the wind is loud, we need a reporter to go to the location and report on the truth of it. It's loud. It's not loud.

Who knows? Maybe objective reporting could gain a foothold again once people become wary of sensitized stories and hearing what they want to hear at the expense of the truth. Or maybe not.

Thursday, May 15

Working With Bloggers: On Being The Dog


Every time I teach social media, I always reference a cartoon once used in a PowerPoint presentation by Gary Gerdemann, director of account services for Peritus Public Relations. The cartoon features two dogs on the Internet with a hilarious caption.

“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”

I felt a little like that yesterday, shortly after Veronica De La Cruz, Internet correspondent for CNN's flagship morning news program, American Morning, emailed me, asking which was the best number to reach me. As fate would have it, I was scheduled for a teleconference/online presentation with a major bankcard merchant services client and had to ask for an hour.

De La Cruz didn’t have an hour, but was still very interested in doing a segment on Bloggers Unite For Human Rights. So we did the next best thing. We emailed each other while I was on the teleconference.

I answered all of her questions and provided the most relevant links, like the Bloggers Unite page and Facebook event, where many bloggers are listing their entries for the campaign. And then she asked for a few bloggers who I knew were participating.

Well, you know how it goes. I’ve been tracking all the bloggers who said they would post today, but you never really know until they do. I needed something concrete, like a commitment. So I quickly posted a request on Twitter and BlogCatalog.

“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”

Since most who follow me on Twitter do know me, none thought twice. On BlogCatalog, which has approximately 150,000 members, that is not always the case. So while those who know me knew I wasn’t joking, a few members took me to task, saying my request was a “self-gratuitous” hoax. Eesh!

And that is the way it was for about an hour. De La Cruz on email, a major client on a telephone conference call, the online presentation on one browser, and a social network drama on the other browser, where I was being called a liar.

Thanks goodness I know enough bloggers! I sorted a list of twenty bloggers who were committed to posting or had already posted on the subject. I was able to source six mini-biographies and put them at the top. It wasn’t the best-written link list I’ve ever put together, but the job got done.

I started early this morning to finish my own post and then checked the discussion thread…

“It is now 9:56 am est. Did anybody see any of their blogs on CNN …” asked one doubting blogger.

As most journalists and public relations professionals know, there are no guarantees with the news. It’s easy to be bumped by anything "breaking" and several stories were bumped today. For awhile, I thought the Bloggers Unite segment might be bumped too as we were scanned the DVR for the segment.

Thank goodness for an email “ding.” I had missed another e-mail from De La Cruz. While it rarely happens, she had sent me a heads up on the airtime. That was enough for some bloggers, like Kevin, who pens Pointless Banter to find the clip.

His post, Never Again, was one of two blogs featured as an example. He wrote about the atrocities in Durfar. The other, was William McCamment’s Dead Rooster, which touched on the human rights issues in Myanmar. Both have subsequently posted the clip.

“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”

Huh. While the cartoon is still funny, there is another lesson to be learned about social media. Sometimes, on the Internet, nobody knows you’re NOT a dog, which is why I always teach that the source, not the medium, is what has credibility.

Special thanks to Veronica De La Cruz, CNN, BlogCatalog, Amnesty International USA, and all those bloggers who worked so hard to put their posts up early this morning. I really appreciate it.

So what’s next for Bloggers Unite? In the next few weeks, BlogCatalog and Copywrite, Ink., in cooperation with Amnesty International USA, will be selecting some posts for recognition. After these posts are announced, I will be profiling three of them right here on Copywrite, Ink.

It’s become an important part of Bloggers Unite not just because one good deed deserves another, but because it places weight behind the effort, ensuring that Bloggers Unite For Human Rights is not just a flash in the pan. It's something we could all think about more often.

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Monday, April 28

Promoting Citizen Journalists: CNN


Valeria Maltoni, Conversation Agent, did her usual excellent job covering the debate between Jeff Jarvis and Michael Tomansky about citizen journalists. It's a conversation I'll be picking up tomorrow (today got away from me).

It's truly is a worthwhile discussion. I only wish those discussing it would give a nod to history, making the point that this is not a new debate and appreciating that the so-called formalization of journalism is a relatively new concept, spurred on largely by the Internet. But I'll save that for tomorrow.

Today, it seems fitting to mention something else about citizen journalism. Both CNN and The New York Times are considering methods that may lift up citizen journalists once and for all. Both are discussing the feasibility of allowing citizens to submit stories online, some of which will then be sourced for the news. Along with them, other media outlets see the potential of citizen journalism as especially useful to shine light on non-profit organizations.

Currently, it's also slated to be part of "The Impact Of The Internet On Media And Community Outreach," a presentation being delivered by Veronica De La Cruz, news anchor and Internet correspondent for CNN’s flagship morning news program “American Morning.” Her speech will be given at The Lions HealthFirst Foundation Inaugural Dinner in Las Vegas on May 16.

I don't expect most people outside Las Vegas will hear too much about the event. Seating is limited to 50 people. I'll do my best to cover portions of it. Veronica De La Cruz is always very accommodating.

The dinner also comes at great time for the Lions HealthFirst Foundation, a public charity that maintains a community health education and preventive screening program for the purpose of reducing the rate of stroke, heart attacks, and cancer.

Sadly, the continuing health scare in southern Nevada has caused a 40 percent drop in participation of this low cost and free health screening program. It’s a travesty because the foundation had nothing to do with the crisis and their screenings are completely non-invasive.

Copywrite, Ink. is among the sponsors, along with Aaron Lelah Jewelers; CNN; Las Vegas International Lions Club; McCormick & Schmick’s; and Herb Perry, public affairs director for CBS Radio Group. All proceeds from the event will benefit Lions HealthFirst Foundation.

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