What is More Important, Being Right or First?

by Dean Hybl

In the media world, the answer to the question “Is it more important to be right or be first?” is usually a resounding “Both.” However, sometimes you have to make a choice.

The history of the media is dotted with memorable examples of media jumping the gun and reporting incorrect information simply because they want to be the “glory” of breaking a story. As technology has made access to news instantaneous and the number of media members trying to “break” a story has multiplied, it has become increasingly more frequent for “Breaking News” to end up with only partial accuracy.

As the Presidential Election looms just a week away, one bi-monthly newspaper in Santa Fe, the New Mexico Sun News, decided that the benefit of being first was far more significant than the drawback if they end up being wrong.

The headline for their October 26-November 8 edition, which is now on newsstands in the Santa Fe area boldly splashes the headline “Obama Wins!” They even go the next step and call it their “special collector’s edition.”

While the decision by their liberal leaning editorial staff may not see a significant increase in their regular circulation of 10,000, it has already yielded them significant notoriety. CNN and YAHOO! News have already posted the story on their web sites and I imagine the editor will receive additional national coverage in the coming days.

So, this increased publicity should really be a boom for the New Mexico Sun News, right? Well, the editor will certainly get his 15-minutes of fame, but the paper will probably not get as much “bang for the buck” as it might have had if the editor had the foresight to work with a public relations agency before embarking on this effort.

In trying to learn more about the newspaper, I went to the Web site listed for the New Mexico Sun News on several media lists, but instead of finding out more about the New Mexico Sun News, the link took me to a site for Global Aviation Inc., which claims to be “Taking the Future to New Heights.” But alas, they won’t benefit much from this media blitz either because their site “is still under construction.”

One Response to What is More Important, Being Right or First?

  1. Roger Pynn says:

    The possibility of a “Dewey Wins” repeat notwithstanding, this hits my recovering journalist hot button, Dean, because it addresses the absurdity of the media’s fascination with delivering what it calls “breaking news.” And beyond the likelihood that most of us long ago became immune to flashing warnings of BREAKING NEWS because they say it so often it has assumed the credibility of Chicken Little as news anchor, consider this: in and of itself, news is — by definition — “breaking.”

    The word is derived from “new” … that which is new.

    Of course it is “breaking.” It is NEWs. Except, of course, if you are a weekly with a crystal ball.

    I guess we should be grateful they haven’t yet taken to reporting BROKEN NEWS … unless of course you prefer they begin reading from A History of the Modern World.

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