TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: False 'News Story' on YouTube Causes Real Headache for TV Stations

False 'News Story' on YouTube Causes Real Headache for TV Stations

CBC News Wire (
Fri, 02 Feb 2007 16:58:56 -0600

Fake online clip of ferry creates real headache for TV stations

A video clip falsely labelled as a ferry battling rough seas in the
Cabot Strait has raised questions about how news organizations deal
with online sources after it made its way onto television news
broadcasts across Canada.

The dramatic 90-second video, which features a vessel slamming into
massive waves, was incorrectly identified as a Marine Atlantic ferry
between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland on the popular website YouTube
last week.

Since the weekend, parts of the clip were shown on Newfoundland's NTV,
Global's station in Halifax, CTV's Canada AM and several local CTV
news broadcasts around the country.

Viewers e-mailed the video to NTV -- which passed it on to its national
affiliate, CTV -- and to Global, the stations said.

None of the stations checked with Marine Atlantic, which thinks the
video was shot off the coast of New Zealand.

Global anchor Allan Rowe, who is also the station's news director,
introduced the clip in a Wednesday evening broadcast as a video "shot
by one of our Global viewers."

"Given the time constraints and the subject matter of the video and
the nature that we were using it, we clearly didn't review it as well
as we should have," Rowe said in an interview. He planned to broadcast
a correction Thursday evening. "It won't happen again."

Robert Hurst, president of CTV News, said the network trusted the
video it received from NTV, and stressed that an apology was aired as
soon as CTV learned there was a mistake.

Still, he acknowledged that the popularity of sites such as YouTube
poses a new danger for journalists.

"With this explosion, the challenge really is to make sure that we are
not being caught or duped, to authenticate the source and the realism
of this material," Hurst said.

NTV's news director, Jim Furlong, said the two reporters assigned to
check out the video each thought the other was calling Marine
Atlantic. In the end, no calls were made.

Faster access, but mistakes easier to make Prof. Mary McGuire, who
teaches journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa, said the internet
gives reporters faster access to information, but mistakes become
easier to make.

"The old rules about how you need to check and double check before you
take things at face value, we need to bring those back," McGuire said
in a telephone interview.

She said rumours and falsehoods can quickly turn into facts as they
spread through the web, and professional news agencies need to offer a
level of trust that YouTube and online blogs can't.

"I think educated news consumers look to news organizations for
credible stuff," she said.

"It's what they have to offer that citizen journalists don't, the
credibility of checking things out."

Passengers cancelled bookings

Marine Atlantic spokeswoman Tara Laing said the video prompted some
passengers to cancel their bookings, but she said most of the fallout
appears to be over.

"I think the fact that it went throughout the internet was a big
thing, because that allowed it to travel quite quickly," Laing said.

"Once it hit the mainstream media, there is a perception out there
that it's absolute gospel."

YouTube allows anyone with a computer and an internet connection to
post videos for immediate public consumption. The site's posting
guidelines prohibit videos that contain damaging "falsehoods or

Several copies of the ferry video remain on the site with the wrong
description, while others have been corrected or removed.

Copyright 2007, CBC

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