Three words the media can’t say

“I don’t know.”

Those are the three most hated words in America’s newsrooms, and a quick scan of the search results on Google News under the subject “Ted Stevens” shows why that, perhaps, should change. Someday. (Click for more readable, larger image)


The rush to quote someone — anyone — with the fate of the former Alaska senator reached its most embarrassing point when a TV station in Alaska reported Stevens dead, based on a second-hand — or possibly third- or fourth-hand — report. It wasn’t until a newspaper double-checked that the “source” said he didn’t know Stevens’ fate for certain.

“Get it first” is still more important in many news organizations than “get it right.”

Is Stevens dead? I don’t know. We’ll find out eventually. And we can wait.

Update 1:39 p.m. – A spokesman for the Stevens family says the former senator died in the crash.

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