Look, we all do it. If a website claims not to pre-write certain articles (obituaries; Apple announcements; obituaries about Apple announcements) then they're obviously missing a trick. But actually publishing an incorrect pre-written article? Just ask the Daily Mail, The Sun and even The Guardian how much that hurts.
Tonight, the long-awaited verdict for the sexy 'n violent courtcase involving accused American Amanda Knox and Italian Raffaele Sollecito, and British victim Meredith Kercher was read out in court. If you watch one of the videos from the court, where the translator converts Italian to English like treacle, you can half-understand the initial confusion over the Knox judgment. The video here shows the guilty verdict come in first for acts of defamation, but it's not until a minute later that you find out she was actually acquitted on the counts of murder.
If you take a glance at Twitter tonight, there are many people harking the death of journalism (again), listing the various courtroom tweeters who tried scooping their peers by tweeting a guilty verdict without actually listening to the judge. The Daily Mail's mistake is an unfortunate and embarrassing one for them, but is just that -- a mistake. Oh who am I kidding? It's the Daily Mail -- they probably published that article because they've got another insane monthly traffic target to meet.
According to PaidContent, the article appeared at 8:50pm and was still live at 9:15pm, which suggests the Daily Mail's reflexes aren't all that fast, or their content management system is awfully slow at taking shit down.
Amusingly, the article had noted imaginary reactions from the courtroom, "reporting" that "prosecutors were delighted with the verdict and said that ‘justice has been done’ although they said on a ‘human factor it was sad two young people would be spending years in jail’." Knox herself "looked stunned" at receiving the guilty verdict...which she of course did not receive.
Blogger Malcolm Coles has also found evidence that The Sun, The Guardian and Sky News also slipped out the guilty verdict before waiting to hear the real thing, which is not that surprising / quite surprising / not that surprising.
In the fast-paced world of online news journalism, being first not only gets you traffic, it gets you kudos and respect. But mistakes like this -- accidents or not -- throw a bucket of water over the trust bestowed from reader to publication.
I hope tonight's curtain-revealer on the behind-the-scenes look at online news journalism has been an eye-opener for you all. Now, to bed, the lot of you. We're in the same timezone now, don't you forget. [Malcolm Coles, PaidContent and WhatCulture via various tweeters]
Sidenote: If you're looking for the punchline, give the comments on Malcolm Coles's blog a read. Kate Middleton blog! Snicker.