Ex-CNNer: Net Broke Rule On Police Scanners


CNN violated the “inviolate rule” of never reporting information heard over a police scanner when it mistook a Coast Guard training exercise near Washington, D.C., for a possible terrorist attack, says former CNN reporter Jamie McIntyre. “It’s basic journalism 101,” McIntyre says, adding that, “How this story played out illustrates a number of ways the ‘new media’ environment has lowered standards that are already hovering dangerously close to the ground.”

What McIntyre calls today’s “hair-trigger policy” in some news-reporting agencies is a “prescription for making bad reporting even worse. The British news agency Reuters ran a bulletin headlined, “Coast Guard Fired on Suspicious Boat on Potomac River in Central Washington, DC.–CNN,” issued seven minutes after CNN first reported the story. A Reuters spokeswoman told the Washington Post, ” We have an obligation to our clients to publish information that could move financial markets, and this story certainly had the potential to do that.” Says McIntyre: “Reuters you have it backwards. When it comes to information that could move financial markets, you have a responsibility to separate rumor from fact.”

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