The news cycle moves faster today than at any time in the history of the news. Due to the accessibility of information via the Internet, newsrooms can publish stories within moments of their inception. Newsrooms must work fast to get those stories out before the competition reports their own version of the story. The consequences of the speed at which the news moves has long been a source of concern for those inside and outside the media. The more newsrooms must compete to be the first to cover a breaking story, the higher the potential for either incomplete or irresponsible reporting. We’re seeing both.


CNN Boston Marathon Picture

CNN received widespread criticism for prematurely reporting on the arrest of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (CNN)

There have been multiple instances of incomplete and irresponsible reporting in recent years. CNN has received widespread criticism for its voracious, occasionally embarrassing, reporting habits. During the Boston Marathon bombing suspect manhunt in April 2014, CNN not only besieged the city of Boston, but also made several false reports. This rush to report the news was the first of a series of embarrassments for CNN, and the bad news for CNN continues.




Rolling Stone magazine, which has long enjoyed a stellar reputation for its reporting, watched a single article dismantle that very reputation. The article covering an alleged rape on the UVA campus relied almost entirely on the word of the victim. The journalist who wrote the article made multiple mistakes in their reporting and failed to pursue sources that refuted many of the claims made in the article. Rolling Stone’s managing editor was forced to write a letter to its readers, apologizing for publishing an article proven to include multiple inconsistencies.



Roger Goodell received the bulk of the criticism during the Ray Rice scandal (The Nation)

During the public thrashing of the NFL during the Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal, the Associated Press (AP) released a report from an unknown source stating that an NFL executive was in possession of the Ray Rice elevator video, despite claims to the contrary. This single report was responsible for much of the public distrust of the NFL during the controversy, and the cry for Commissioner Goodell’s resignation was amplified because of that report. In early January 2014, the still unsourced AP story came under scrutiny after Robert Muller found no evidence that the league ever possessed the video.


In their pursuit to be the first to get the big story, these news organizations and publications watched their reputations take brutal hits in the media and with the public. The irony is that, while their reports threatened to damage the reputations of others, it was their own reputations that suffered most.


As we struggle to keep up with the speed of the news, which moves faster than any journalist can type his or her stories, journalists and news organizations risk reporting falsities to a public that is reliant on the news to make decisions about the issues they hold most important. Often, when the news reported turns out to be false, the public doesn’t always receive the message, and the reputations of the innocent are forever damaged. In the end, journalists and news organizations must ask themselves: How do we report the news? Quickly or responsibly?


Do you think the speed of the news is responsible for the rise of irresponsible reporting? Leave your thoughts in the comments section, or tweet me @nataliepetitto.