Many Bay Area newspaper readers woke up Wednesday to headlines saying that 12 miners trapped in a West Virginia coal mine were alive. The story was dead wrong. Here’s how the San Jose Mercury News explained the error. At the SF Chronicle, reader representative Dick Rogers said his paper was caught in a “time trap.” And this editor’s note was published by the Contra Costa Times. The LA Times said reporters relied on credible sources, as did the relatives of the miners.

SF Press Club News

2 Comments

  1. the governor of w.va. said they were alive!!!! what were the reporters supposed to do, go into the mine and check to see if the miners were breathing? a GOVERNOR of any state seems like a credible source to me. it is a shame, however, how many publications did not include an attribution to the information that the miners were alive.

  2. Reporters need to stop printing or broadcasting rumors without verification. This race to be first is damaging to the profession. Katrina was a similar disaster for our credibility–where we were reporting rapes and murders in the New Orleans SuperDome that never happened, and estimates of 40,000 dead. Actual death toll was about 1,000. No wonder newspaper circulation is plunging. How many times can we expect to mislead our customers?

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