What today’s Supreme Court ruling teaches us about news coverage


This morning the Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Health Care Act was upheld.

The coverage of that event offers a very revealing look at how news coverage is changing. (Addition: Fox News got it wrong too) CNN initially reported that it had been struck down. Now there is a correction on its website:

“In his opinion, Chief Justice Roberts initially said that the individual mandate was not a valid exercise of Congressional power under the Commerce Clause.  CNN reported that fact, but then wrongly reported that therefore the court struck down the mandate as unconstitutional. However, that was not the whole of the Court’s ruling.  CNN regrets that it didn’t wait to report out the full and complete opinion regarding the mandate.  We made a correction within a few minutes and apologize for the error.”

As the correction admits, when they read it fast they read it wrong.

On twitter on the other hand, we could watch in real time as people reported what they read. In other words, we got to see the process as it unfolded that led people to conclude that it had been upheld.

Mainstream media basically stakes its claim on the fact that it employs professional journalists to report the news, while many people on twitter are not professional journalists and therefore are not qualified to report. What they say can’t be trusted because they don’t go through the verification process journalists use.

That’s just wrong. What we are seeing on twitter is the actual verification process that mainstream journalism thinks should take place behind the scenes. We got to watch it  in real time as the decision got  read. We got to see that you had to read far enough along to actually reach the justified conclusion.

Mainstream media’s greed to be first to report something or call something actually leads to skimping on the verification process. As this example showed.

When the verification process is public, we get to see for ourselves how it works, and judge for ourselves how credible reporting is. For me, making the process public makes it more credible.


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