For the second time in two weeks, the recently launched Politico.com website, which has partnered with CBS News for political coverage, has found itself having to backtrack after issuing what appeared to be poorly sourced reports. On Thursday, it reported that Sen. John Edwards had decided to suspend his presidential campaign after learning that his wife had been diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer. The report was quickly picked up by other media outlets before it was quashed by Edwards himself, who declared, "The campaign goes on. The campaign goes on strongly." The writer of the original Politico.com article, Ben Smith, quickly posted a message titled "Getting It Wrong," and apologized for not getting a second source for his story. On the CBS blog Public Eye, CBSNews.com political editor, which ran the story as its lead, commented, "While The Politico is an editorial partner of CBSNews.com, we should not have run breaking news of this nature that had not been independently verified by CBS News and will be careful not do so in the future." Only last week, the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric led off with a report by correspondent Jim Axelrod that "our partners at Politico.com" were predicting that "it is inevitable that [Attorney General Alberto] Gonzalez will be fired" and that "officials at the request of the White House have begun interviewing successors." In a commentary posted on the Columbia Journalism Review's website, writer Gal Beckerman observed, "The bigger problem has to do with the Internet itself. By giving the impression that everything is immediately correctable, it lowers accountability, making it seem okay to take risks -- like basing a story on one source. If a website like Politico wants to be taken seriously, it has to live by the same rigorous standards that most news organizations live and die by."




23/03/2007