Trains, Planes & Media Mistakes

Rumors and media mistakes now speed around the world in mere seconds.
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In 1873, Jules Verne captivated readers with “Around the World in 80 Days,” a saga of steamships and trains. In 1986, Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager piloted the first round-the-world airplane flight without stopping or refueling, in just over 9 days. Today, the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft are about to cross the outer edge of the solar system and begin exploring the vast universe beyond — 35 years after being launched.

All wondrous dreams and adventures. But they pale compared to the incredible gains in the speed of communication over the past two decades. News, rumors and opinions now speed around the planet in mere seconds.

What’s this mean for Crisis & Reputation Management?

You’ve all heard about 24-hour news cycles and the hyper competitiveness this creates among news outlets.

In the not-so-distant past, the rule for newspaper reporters was, What have you done for me today? For television and news services such as Associated Press — with AM and PM news cycles — the rule was, What have you done for me this cycle?

But in recent years, those rules have evaporated. News developments are measured in minutes, sometimes seconds. Consider the enormous potential for error, usually the result of a rush to publish.

On the morning the US Supreme Court ruled on the fate of health-care reform — arguably the most carefully planned news event in decades — two major news outlets (Fox and CNN) were so anxious to be first that they got it wrong because they didn’t wait for Chief Justice Roberts to finish speaking. Or entertainment news outlet TMZ, which was first to report the death of singer Michael Jackson — based on a tip and 20-some minutes before doctors declared him dead.

The greatest casualty of this speed is that media take less time to confirm stories and verify facts. Which makes it all the more urgent to respond quickly, to avoid damage that can’t be undone.


“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”

Gillott Communications is a Los Angeles-based public relations firm that specializes in high-stakes Crisis & Reputation Management. If you don’t already subscribe, please sign up for our blog Insights on High-Stakes PR. You can reach Roger Gillott directly at 310-826-8696.


One thought on “Trains, Planes & Media Mistakes

  1. What scares me the most, as someone who represents consumer goods companies, is that all of this has lowered the bar for the press. They can print a major falsehood and just chalk it up to blaming someone else. 24 hours later when the “correction” goes out, if it goes out, no one is paying attention.

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