Ever get into a dispute with someone basely purely on an exchange of text messages and then, at some point, you both realize that your messages were received in a tone that differed from what was intended?
The world of broadcast media has an advantage over the world of text-based media in the same way face-to-face conversations trump those that take place between smartphones. The problem is that words on paper or on your computer screen or on your BlackBerry can't really relay full context in regard to sarcasm and humor versus sincerity and seriousness.
Unfortunately for a San Jose Mercury News reporter who fell victim to a moment of gullibility, that resulted in a bad day at the office.
See, Dana Wessel from 1500ESPN.com in Minneapolis made a joke on Twitter regarding something president Barack Obama might have said to Landon Donovan during the L.A. Galaxy's visit to the White House on Tuesday…
Obama to Landon Donovan: "You wanna take Air Force One to Mexico City? We can still make it. Just say the word."
— Dana Wessel (@DanaWessel) March 26, 2013
But then Mercury News reporter Elliott Almond took the artificial quote and ran away with it in deadpan fashion, failing to attribute — or follow up with — the source. The result? A hard-news story based on a conversation that never happened.
Can we blame this on the 24-hour news cycle and the insatiable and constant need for fresh content in the world of online journalism, or is that just an excuse for shoddy work?
(Hat tip to Media Bistro)