Blogs can be slow and wrong: Memeorandum and Ben Smith

I love Memeorandum and can admit to a guilty addiction to Techmeme. Gabe Rivera has successfully built four sites (baseball and gossip, too) in which “traditional media,” blogs and all the rest are blended into RSS goodness. But today’s Politico Edwards error demonstrate the problem of an editor-less code-reliant news site. Some five hours after Ben Smith had posted his mea culpa, the top story on Mememorandum continued to be his incorrect “Edwards to Suspend Campaign” story.

Clearly, Ben Smith’s error should not be framed as “the blogs are spreading false information” claim. Never mind that Politico is as close to mainstream as a non-dead tree publisher can be: E&P notes that Politico was not alone:

Outlets falling for it ranged from MSNBC to the Washington Times, which headlined its story “Report: Edwards Suspending Campaigning.” This appeared shortly before his scheduled noon announcement. The Los Angeles Times and Newsday were among many others which also headlined the “suspension” on their sites.

The source for many of the reports was a blog item on The author, Ben Smith, later admitted it was based on a single source and he apologized.

But another source was Reuters, which also had utilized a single source. ABC News’ web site, among others, picked it up after 11 a.m. The Washington Post site carried the Reuters item with the headline: “Edwards to suspend presidential campaign: source.” 


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