That entails logistical innovations that would get corrections to readers in different ways. But it also entails, I think, publishing stories—not just on blogs, but also in newspapers and on TV—that aim to correct, or debunk, false memes that are getting widespread play from other news outlets.
As it happens, the Los Angeles Times itself recently published a story, headlined “Suspect in Northwest Airlines bomb plot had round-trip ticket,” that may have just that effect. Articles like this could be written in the wake of almost every attempted terrorist attack: as Sebastian Rotella, one of the reporters on the story, noted via e-mail, early coverage of these events is plagued by inaccuracy.
Rotella also said something else interesting: he and his colleague Peter Nicholas reported the story “because it was news, not with refutation in mind.” (Presumably the news hook was that White House officials were telling congressional aides that Abdulmutallab’s ticket was round-trip; Rotella didn’t immediately respond to a follow-up question.) In this case, the distinction may not matter much; the result was that a story with the correct information in its headline was published by a major newspaper and picked up by major aggregators. But to really get that river flowing in the right direction, a new mindset might help. Refutation can be news, too.
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