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A Request for the Media: Don't Try to Be First, Aspire to Be Best
By: Mike Bush
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A pair of crises took over social media for a weeklong period, with the bombing and subsequent manhunt in Boston and the tragic explosion in Texas. Because of the always-on, 24/7 social media echo chamber we now live in, news organizations raced to provide coverage of each event, often looking for a unique angle or a scoop to be in front of the other reporting agencies.
 
And it led to a disappointing display of inaccuracies from some of the US leaders in news:
  • CNN reported that an arrest had been made, when in fact it hadn’t.
  • The NY Post gave a description of a suspect that wasn’t correct.
  • CBS still has a story up that quadruples that actual death toll in Texas.
I understand the value of being first with a story. Having the top spot in news aggregators, as the news organization that “broke” the story, can mean hundreds of thousands of hits to a website.
 
However, the astonishing level of inaccuracy over the past few weeks has forced many people to be their own fact-checkers with regards to current news. And if a consumer needs to look at three different sites to try to put together an accurate picture, the value of being “first reporter” goes right out the window.
 
So my request to members of the media is simple:
 
Forget about being first. Aspire to be the best.
 
At the end of the day, because of how easily content is shared across Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and every other social platform out there, the best story will end up being the one that gets the most traffic. And it will mainly be because the average people posting it will say something like “There’s a lot of misinformation out there, but this article seems to cover everything well.”
 
So please…write the article that “covers everything well,” and stop reporting “facts” that aren’t actually factual.
 
As flacks, we understand that being a reporter can stink, but most of the wounds from the past couple weeks are self-inflicted.
 
And, oh yeah, please have extremely difficult-to-crack passwords for your social media accounts, especially the ones you use to update your readers. You wouldn’t want to crash the stock market because a hacker took over your account.


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About the Author
Mike Bush is a PR and Marketing freelancer with more than a dozen years of experience in the field. Find him on and connect Twitter @mikebush or at www.mikebush.nyc. 
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