Burying a Warm Body

The folks over at CBS, Knight-Ridder and Tribune Business News don’t need no stinkin’ exit polls: they can apparently see directly into the future.

At 8:42 this morning, the CBS affiliate in Jacksonville, Florida posted on its website a Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News wire story entitled, “Dean’s Campaign Hit with Another Blow after Wisconsin Loss.” (The story has since been taken down, but as Atrios noted, you can see a screen shot here.)

“I’m really upset about it,” said Susan Adams Loyd, Vice President and General Manager at CBS 47. She blamed an automatic feed from Knight-Ridder, and said the station removed the story as soon as it was discovered on its website.

It’s common practice for reporters, particularly those at wire services, to try to beat their deadlines by cranking out pieces in advance based on their expectations.

But the snafu exposed to the public, for a few brief moments, one of the fundamental flaws of campaign journalism: that storylines are written long before the stories themselves actually happen, and that political reporters are often more reliant on conventional wisdom than reality in putting together their coverage.

—Brian Montopoli

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Brian Montopoli is a writer at CJR Daily.