When Citizen Journalism Fails: CNN’s iReport Misreports Steve Job’s (non) Heart Attack 3


(Courtesy of Silicon Alley Insider)

By Kyle Austin

This morning (first reported by Henry Blodget over at Silicon Alley Insider) it appeared that CNN’s iReport had a major, major scoop. An iReport user named “johntw” posted the embedded story above (Update: Not available after 10:40 a.m. ET) at 7:22 a.m. ET. The story on an apparent Steve Job’s heart attack obviously picked-up quick traction (especially with recent focus on Job’s health) and was featured on the front of the iReport Web Page. It had been viewed  5,924 times and Digg’d 152 times as of 10:25 a.m. ET, not to mention the buzz it built in the Twittosphere.

The big problem? The story is completely false.

Kara Swisher reported, via Twitter, that Apple sources have claimed the report is false.

Kara Swisher
karaswisher @mathewi BTW, we checked and Apple says false.

As did Silicon Alley Insider:

We contacted Apple.  Katie Cotton, Vice President of Worldwide Communications, replied quickly, saying “It is not true.”

iReport, which launched to industry praise in February of this year, was created to enable citizen journalism for the Time Warner Co. However, even at the time of launch it was unclear how CNN would be editing / moderating the iReport content. “We’ll be telling people in lots of different ways that it’s a post-moderated site,” Susan Grant, EVP of CNN News Services said at the time.

Now CNN will find itself defending the reputation of “The most believable news organization,” despite the fact that it had nothing to do with the initial report (other then creating the iReport portal).

Apple’s stock doesn’t appear to be overly affected by the false news this morning. Although it briefly plunged when the misreport was picked-up by Blodget (Yahoo! Finance illustration below), it is now up 4.05% (as of 10:40 a.m. ET).  This is good news after seeing the damage a false news report had on United Airlines stock in early September. However, it once again illustrates how closely Apple’s stock is tied to the health of their visionary CEO.

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