Recent news about a CNN iReport citizen journalist inaccurately reported that Apple CEO Steve Jobs was rushed to the hospital for a heart attack, and how the stock subsequently dropped into the toilet and bled off billions, seems to have started this fireball against citizen journalism in general. I’m seeing “told you so” reports all over the web. Only, it’s not just citizens who get things wrong.
A similar story came out a few months back, where a comedy of errors involving a Google search sent United Airlines stock down to the floor by accidentally reporting on years-old news as if it were current.
Here’s a magical truth: information isn’t always accurate. NASA once made an inches/centimeters error that cost billions. I live in Boston, where the Big Dig was loaded with mistakes, miscalculations, and billions of dollars in rework. Airplanes are off course 90+ % of the time. Most of the flight is a course correction. Practically nothing in our day is 100% accurate all the time, not even ourselves. Did you know that your body has no way to accurately report thirst, so it reports hunger, hoping that you’ll wash down the food with a drink? Your own body doesn’t accurately report things.
Let’s put down the torches and pitchforks. Citizen journalists can be inaccurate, too. The beauty of the web is that multiple news sources and communications channels hopefully help us sort this all out faster.
Photo credit, Dr. Cornelius