Media, correct thyself

Apparently, the CBC News Network today accidentally broadcast 45 minutes of Olympic coverage coast to coast.

Errors happen (especially these days when fewer people are controlling more channels), and though I’m not quite satisfied by the explanation that this was a “technical issue”, what amuses me about this story is the errant headline produced by Canadian Press about it (since corrected), that lets us see which websites don’t even read stories before they’re posted:

I can understand CP having a technical glitch, even one ironically on a story about a media error. But the fact that all these websites apparently don’t have human editors…

10 thoughts on “Media, correct thyself

  1. Clément Côté

    I suppose the “HED is 79 CHARACTERS Nick Patch” is some technical info destined for editors only and that wasn’t supposed to be printed.
    Just personal curiosity here: What does it mean?

    1. Fagstein Post author

      Wire stories always come with a lot of meta information: slug (the equivalent of a filename), byline, date, category (sports, news, entertainment, etc.), wire service etc. Normally, when that information is encoded properly, it’s parsed correctly by whatever automated web system there is and it’s posted with everything in the right place. This time, for whatever reason, it wasn’t and that information was included in the headline.

      It’s fairly self-explanatory: Nick Patch is the name of the writer and “HED IS 79 CHARACTERS” means exactly that (“Hed” is lazy journalistspeak for “headline”).


    The print version of “rip and read”.
    Last year in Toronto there were frequent protest outside the US consulate in Toronto. One morning a wire service referred to demonstrations happening at the U.S. embassy and many local Toronto radio news cast repeated the error throughout the day.

  3. William Moss

    I notice that your clip from the 570News website included a reference to Rogers Media (sounded more like an ad), without mentioning that Rogers also owns 570News?

    It seems to be a common print journalism style to acknowledge common ownership when reporting on related companies. Does this apply in broadcast and web site journalism, too?

    1. Fagstein Post author

      Sure, but if you’re not even reading the story you post to your website, you’re definitely not editing it to include such disclosures.

      (Maclean’s is also owned by Rogers.)

      1. William Moss

        Yup, considering there are still 789 hits on Google News for “HED is 79 CHARACTERS Nick Patch”, I guess you’re right. They don’t read their own headlines OR your blog.

          1. Fagstein Post author

            That’s a bit misleading. It’s not that other websites have posted the story, it’s because the phrase has popped up on other pages, most of which have some automated related link searcher.

      2. William Moss

        So I guess the response is, since a Rogers owned-property posted the link automatically without reading it, it is presumed ont ot have added any bias.

        But what if the origianl CP wire story was a rewrite of a Rogers story that originally had the disclaimer? I suppose in that case, the rewrite is presumed to have removed any bias.

        Now, this is not to say that an automated wire-story-posting-bot at a Rogers-owned property couldn’t automatically, without human intervention, add a pro-Rogers bias.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *