Broken news: the Supreme Court Mighty Power ruling a Twitter mess

by Toby Manhire / 27 February, 2013
On Twitter, and the radio, overhasty efforts to break the big news fast resulted in a great mangled confusion.
There was eager anticipation of the Supreme Court's decision on the New Zealand Maori Council appeal to block the Mighty River Power partial privatisation. Perhaps too eager.

As journalists huddled around Sian Elias in Wellington, Twitter users engaged in a great virtual huddle around them.

And it was all a bit of mess - reminiscent of the media muddle over the ruling on the privacy of the teapot tapes in November last year (see 3.15pm here).

Whether or not Twitter was to blame, it resulted in poor old Duncan Garner having to splutter on Radio Live, "There have been confused reports ... the court has dismissed the claims", having minutes earlier declared, echoing his news announcer, "We can confirm the Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the Maori Council."

Radio Live were quick to set listeners straight, and Twitter was self-correcting, but it points to an unhealthy growing tendency for errors - serious errors, like, you know, the opposite of the truth - to proliferate in the breaking-news sprint. The allure of the retweet, perhaps.

Here's a taste of the clustertweetage, right and wrong - there were more that ballsed it up, but I didn't grab them before they were deleted.


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