Reporting Anonymous Tweets

Don't do it.

I’ve written before about how press standards tend to go wobbly when it comes to Apple gossip.

Here’s a prime example (though it’s as much a Howard Stern story as an Apple one).

The Star-Ledger asks in a blog post this afternoon: “Is Howard Stern taking his show to iTunes?”

That’s a turn-your-head story if you’re into Stern, Apple, or media business. What’s the sourcing?

A single anonymous tweet:

The tweet originated under the name “SIRI Stock” and linked to a Sirius XM’s Investor Relations webpage.

We know the Star-Ledger knows better. It follows that immediately with this:

There is no absolutely no reason to believe the claim since anyone can say pretty much anything on the social web site.

But it apparently couldn’t help itself. Let’s put it this way: There is absolutely no excuse for reporting an anonymous tweet since anyone can say pretty much anything on the social web site.

Here’s the last paragraph:

It certainly sounds like bunk but an interesting rumor nonetheless. Let us know… Would you follow Howard to iTunes?

That doesn’t get you off the hook. Stories or posts like this just have the effect of furthering junk information out there, which is exactly what a news organization should not be doing, particularly when the tweet comes from something calling itself “Sirius Stock News.” That’s a red flag that it could be somebody trying to manipulate the market.

Worse, there’s no evidence the Star-Ledger did any reporting here.

All the more reason it should have left this one alone.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,