Good summary from Greg Mitchell:

In one of the most disturbing and disgraceful media performances of its kind in recent years, television and newspapers carried the tragically wrong news late Tuesday and early Wednesday that 12 of 13 trapped coal miners in West Virginia had been found alive and safe. Hours later they had to reverse course, often blaming the mix-up on "miscommunication."

For hours, starting just before midnight, newspaper reporters and anchors such as MSNBC's Rita Cosby interviewed euphoric loved ones and helped spread the news about the miracle rescue. Newspaper Web sites announced the happy news and many put it into print for Wednesday right at late deadlines. "They're Alive!" screamed the banner headline in the Indianapolis Star. Even the Los Angeles Times, three hours behind on the West Coast, carried the front page headline: "Suddenly There is Joy: 12 Miners Found Alive." The Boston Globe at least added a qualfier to its banner hed: "12 Miners Reportedly Found Alive."

In many cases, the same papers stopped the presses later, after tens of thousands of copies were printed and distributed, to carry the correct report. USA Today, for example, printed an update under the headline: "Official: 1 Miner Survived."

Some editors blamed officials, including the governor, for misleading reporters. In reality, rescuers had only confirmed finding 12 miners and were checking their vital signs. But what leaked out to anxious family members was that 12 were found alive.

A coal company spokesman, sounding like another Michael Brown, explained, ''Let's put this in perspective. Who do I tell not to celebrate? I didn't know if there were 12 or 1 [who were alive].''


It took three hours for the coal company to correct the reports. It is unclear why the media carried the news without proper sourcing. Some reports claim the early reports spread via cell phones and when loved ones started celebrating most in the media simply joined in.
Once again, the media is the news.

More on the media disgrace from PSoTD. More on some important thoughts to take away about safety from Maha.

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