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Victims of the News Cycle

2006-01-05 14:50:58.845798+00 by petronius 5 comments

I'm in a Starbucks yesterday, about 11:30 am Chicago time. Next to the shelf of sugar packets and napkins is a sales rack with copies of the local newspapers. I notice they still have on offer a copy of the Tribune with the headline "Miners Found Alive", referring to the false report of the West Virginia coal mine disaster victims. Obviously this edition went to press about midnight, before the grim reality was discovered. It may have been delivered to the coffee shop before dawn, but here it was hours after the truth was known and still on sale. My copy at home had the correct story. I pointed this out to a supervisor who was puttering around the store, and he hurredly pulled the copies off. A very creepy incident.

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-05 15:03:48.232254+00 by: Dan Lyke

Did you grab a copy? I haven't tried to chase down an explanation for why the wrong announcement got made one, but this feels like something of a "Dewey Wins" moment.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-05 15:22:53.500051+00 by: Diane Reese

My home-delivered copy of the Mercury News from yesterday has a big headline reading, "MINERS FOUND ALIVE": you want I should send it to you?

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-05 16:58:22.618515+00 by: Dan Lyke

I guess the foul-up isn't as interesting a story as I thought it could be, one report says:

International Coal Group Chief Executive Officer Ben Hatfield said the false report spread when people overheard "stray cell phone conversations" between rescuers underground and the rescue command center.

So, if anything, it's a matter of journalists running to their editors without confirmation, but that happened in every medium (I first heard the survival reports on the radio). And, pragmatically, it's not like in 20 years the memory of this gaffe is going to mean anything to the population at large.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-05 17:39:50.958974+00 by: Nancy

What I found most sucky was that apparently the 'powers that be' knew the report of '12 alive' was possibly faulty sometime after they knew the families had begun celebrating and they took several hours to tell the families of their doubts because they wanted to 'confirm' the facts. Which you have to find ironic.

They should have told the families immediately that they were no longer certain of the facts instead of letting the false beliefs go on. And on. Of course *I* would not wanted to have been the one to break the news. It's just all-around rotten.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-06 21:33:04.84495+00 by: petronius

In today's Chicago Tribune their public editor explained that about 350,000 of the daily press run of 500,000 held the wrong headline. He got a trifle huffy about his reporters not being able to climb down the mine to count for themselves, but when the governor of the state is running around crying with joy, what's a poor newshound to do?