Will Oremus of Slate writes about a scoop regarding Amazon.com reported by former Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Lessin that was later retracted with another story on her website without it stating that it was a correction to an earlier story.
Oremus writes, “The follow-up was not framed as a correction or retraction. It was framed as a fresh scoop. “The statement is the first time that Amazon has said it will not offer a phone this year, addressing long-running reports it has been working on one,” Efrati wrote. This post, too, made the rounds, and Lessin once again tweeted it with a tip to Techmeme. This time the tech-news board appears not to have linked to Lessin’s site, instead highlighting posts on the Verge and other tech sites that referenced Lessin’s self-debunking. Still, her site is the primary source.
“What’s interesting to me is not that Lessin and Efrati reported on rumors that turned out to be wrong. Every journalist, including me and my Slate colleagues, gets things wrong sometimes. And in an online-news landscape that is more competitive and faster-moving than ever, it stands to reason that we’d see both more false rumors published and quicker debunkings of those false rumors than we did in the old days.
“But as I read Lessin and Efrati’s unapologetic follow-up—no “regret the error” here—a question occurred to me: Do the writers of a piece like this in fact regret running with the rumor in the first place? Or might the whole thing turn out to be a net positive for them and their site? After all, a lot of people who might not have known the site existed are now aware of it as a possible source of hot industry gossip, if not necessarily bankable information.”
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