More importantly, though, it’s essential to dwell on the mistakes made by news organizations, painful as that may be. This, too, is happening to some extent. CNN in particular has become a punchline in social media and an object of ridicule in outlets like The Daily Show, prompting somber assessments of damage to the struggling network’s brand from prominent media critics like Dylan Byers and David Carr.

But while the attention on CNN’s missteps is welcome, the cable network was not alone in making important errors during coverage of the bombing—the Associated Press, for instance, also mistakenly reported that a suspect was in custody Wednesday. The problem is that the institutional memory for journalistic errors like these is far too short. More fundamental changes are needed—any chance we can create an anti-Pulitzer for worst breaking news coverage?

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Brendan Nyhan is an assistant professor of government at Dartmouth College. He blogs at and tweets @BrendanNyhan.