U.S. Media Jumps Gun on ‘Freed Hostages’ Report

Sometimes it’s so predictable that a local Iraqi provincial governor could be misinformed, overly optimistic, or fearing for his life when he releases a statement via AP such as:

“Police were able to free two of the foreigners kidnapped and they are in good health,” al-Waili said in a telephone interview. He said he thought they were Americans but could not yet confirm their nationality.

The wire copy ends by clarifying that U.S. officials could not confirm that statement, but apparently CNN, MSNBC, and everyone else failed to read that far before changing their headlines from 5 abducted (four Americans and one Austrian, who is reported killed – or perhaps one of the Americans was killed) to Police free 2 hostages.

Not so surprising, of course, a couple hours later when the revised AP copy reads:

A top Iraqi police official in Basra said none of the five kidnapped security company employees had been freed. He claimed the provincial governor, who announced the release of two of the hostages, had confused separate incidents in the region involving private security forces.

In the time it took me to write this — MSNBC has reverted back to the original headline but I was able to capture these screenshots from CNN and AOL. A big problem in Iraq reportingn that I have seen is the confusion regarding specific events (which can repeat themselves on a daily basis) and the time or day it occurred (Baghdad time is UTC+3, or 11 hours ahead of Los Angeles).

Therefore, when hostages are released — it cannot be assumed to be the same hostages. 14 contractors were abducted Thursday and it seems there is another group of contract security workers being mentioned, such as the reported killing of a British security guard. I can’t even follow these reports are so erratic, inconsistent and all over the place.

And let’s not forget that earlier this week, 150 Baghdad civilians were abducted and are being freed, tortured, killed and/or still held hostage.

Let’s get it on, fact-checkers and online news editors and break these headlines more responsibly!


UPDATE: After 2+ hours of making me nervous that I was blowing the story myself, CNN finally changed the story back to 5 hostages, none released, and blamed Iraq for the bad report despite the fact that they were the only government or news outlet continuing to claim that 2 hostages were freed…

RIAApe Me… Again

IS the RIAA working hard behind the scenes to pass Audio Flag legislation to plug the analog hole during Congress’ lame duck session?

The *battle* is on and earlier this week, the RIAA’s Cary Sherman called BS on the Consumer Electronics Assn’s Digital Freedom docket in this op-ed published on CNET.

CEA President Gary Shapiro fired back almost immediately with this response.

I don’t trust either of these guys, quite frankly, and wonder what everybody else thinks about these association-types apparent attempt to duke it out, not to mention, Microsoft’s consent to sellout to labels for each Zune (despite fair use) sold and whether, in the end any of these efforts will lead us in any direction towards digital freedom for both consumers and creators.

Charles wrote in to Small Print Project:

…Seems like the RIAA is looking to make a push to pass the Audio Flag bill during the lame duck session. This will kill any hopes of having a digital radio recorder, much like Tivo, which companies like XM and Sirius are behind. Tonight the RIAA is sponsoring a tech demo/concert/open bar at the Russell Senate building. Special interests hard at work?

I can’t find anything at quick glance on this, but please — SOMEBODY crash it and report back!


Click to order RIAA toilet paper

More on the Sherman spin:
/. thread
Mistaken Goal posts of last week’s “revision of a white paper released in 2003 entitled ‘Background Discussion of Copyright Law and Potential Liability for Students Engaged in P2P File Sharing on University Networks.'”
Ars Technica

Originally posted November 16, 2006 at Set-Top Cop blog.

This Day in Media

— Jay Rosen introduced and discussed NewAssignment.net — “an experiment in open-source journalism” — at Harvard’s Berkman Center (video)

— Al Jazeera International finally launches its English-language broadcast. It’s U.S. distribution is quite thin, having been turned down by Comcast, however, it will be available online at VDC.com and english.aljazeera.net.

— Len Downie is the latest to announce layoffs and consolidation as the state of the job market circa my impending graduation from J-school begins to eerily mirror the quasi- market circa my high school graduation in 1993 (and how things changed with 2 years of Net proliferation). An ONLINE Journalism major, I’m not nearly as concerned as my colleagues.

Free Press and the Center on Media & Democracy released their second report on the use of Fake News and Video News Reports in mainstream media.

— Amanda Congdon of Rocketboom fame is goin’ Disney — she’s signed on to blog at ABCNews. Just the other day she announced a contract with HBO (check int’v w/ BizWeek). Hopefully her lovely vidblogging wit will transfer to print better than Mark Halperin‘s (of the Note) personality lame-ified ABC News Now appearances.

Tonight at a presentation of a soon-to-be-release study of Media Usage Gap by the Annenberg School for Communication and Ketchum, it was revealed that “it’s all about the influencers,” 18-30 year olds digest an incrediubly broad array of media, from social networking sites to print newspapers, etc… and blogs are not as infouential on a broad scale as many think, according to the study, of course. More on all that later.

Lots of deeper blogging to come as the past few days have included BarCamp LA 2 and encounters with ‘net early adopters/enablers/activists John Gilmore and John Perry Barlow… .