Should Media Wait for Official Confirmation Before Reporting on Suspects?


After major news media mistakes in reporting identifications of suspects and other major elements of breaking stories like the Boston Marathon bombings and the Newtown school massacre, “we may be reaching a point where news organizations [ ] need to wait for absolutely official confirmation — either a press conference or a statement,” media blogger Erik Wemple of the Washington Post says on CNN’s Reliable Sources.

Guests on the program discussed the erroneous reporting by many news outlets that a suspect had been arrested last Wednesday, and in at least one case that the second suspect had died last Friday. Of the New York Post’s publishing a front-page photo headlined “Bag Men” of people who turned out not to be suspects in the marathon bombing, CNN host Howard Kurtz said, “I think it was deliberate. It was premeditated. It was not something based on a source that turned out to be wrong.”

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