Amy Jahns' Blog

Deleting & Correcting Tweets for Journalists

Posted on: January 18, 2011

*This post is not going into the ethical thoughts on the use of sources for confirmation or policies a newsroom should take. Its only for my thoughts on tweeted misinformation  and how I feel it should be corrected.*

Twitter has turned into a fantastic resource to receive your news. Information can come quickly and in breaking news situations, followers can stick with a journalist as the story progresses.

In the past without social media, this information was delayed for audiences. For newspapers , readers would wait till the next day for the article. For TV news, viewers would have to wait till the evening news. Now, if one hears sirens down the street and its big enough news, some journalist is probably tweeting about it.

In today’s social media world there is a race to release information. Journalists answer the call of followers to post as much information as possible in the quickest time possible. An example of this quick  tweeting came recently with the tragedy in Tuscon. A source at the local sheriff’s department told a news organization that Rep. Giffords had passed away after being shot at a town hall meeting. This information was immediately posted on Twitter. However, it was later determined that Rep. Giffords had indeed survived the shooting.

NPR was the first news organization to post that Giffords had died. Most big networks followed.

NPR issued an apology on the error through Twitter. Which was the absolute right action to take. They didn’t delete the original “death” tweet.

There have been many thoughts and discussions on this whole subject. I’ll try to keep my opinion simple and on point of tweeting errors. I believe that a corrected tweet should be issued, and then a  link should be posted to a story that  apologizes for the error with more details.

Example: CORRECTION: Early reports on death were incorrect. We are deeply sorry for this erroneous report. Here is a link with more information…..

Deleting the original post would do nothing for the people who already saw it, so its best to leave it and move on.

Admit to the error, apologize and move forward.

 This post is not going into the ethical thoughts on the use of sources for confirmation or policies a newsroom should take. Its only for my thoughts on tweeted misinformation  and how I feel it should be corrected.

I should also note that I tweet news stories for a local TV news station.

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