By: Joe Strupp
Internet Hoax A Catalyst For Change
by Joe Strupp
At least two news services that mistakenly reported the resignation of
the Emulex Corp. chairman, causing his company’s stock to plummet last
month, plan to institute tighter controls over accuracy to avoid future
fabrications. The new procedures come as federal authorities prepare to
prosecute the alleged distributor of the false press release over the
CBS.MarketWatch.com and Bloomberg News, two of the news services that
incorrectly reported the resignation of Emulex CEO Paul Folino on Aug.
25, said they’d changed policies to require more editorial review of
such information before it is released. ‘We will have more eyes looking
at things,’ said David Callaway, CBS.MarketWatch.com executive editor.
From now on, he said, two editors would review all market stories and
headlines instead of one. CBS.MarketWatch.com also dropped Internet
Wire, the service that acted as a conduit for the false press release,
along with several other third-party news services it
determined were unnecessary.
Bloomberg News, meanwhile, planned to add a section to its employee
handbook on the dangers of fraud, while also requiring more specific
attribution indicating that a story is based on a press release,
according to Editor in Chief Matthew Winkler. ‘Many more caveats will
be built into a story,’ he said.
Other news services that carried the false story, including the Dow
Jones News Service and TheStreet.com, said no major changes were being
made to their verification procedures, but called the incident a ‘wake-
up call’ for online news. ‘We need to realize it is more important to
be right than first,’ said Jonathan Krim, executive editor of
Bloomberg’s clients include 300 daily newspapers, while Dow Jones News
Service is available to 50 dailies. No daily papers were reported to
have published the false information in their print editions, most
likely because the hoax was revealed before 11 a.m. EST.
Internet Wire, the 6-year-old service that distributed the press
release, said it had
allegedly been written by former employee Mark Jakob. Michael Terpin,
Internet Wire chairman and CEO, said Jakob had quit a week before the
incident occurred. FBI investigators arrested Jakob on Aug. 31,
charging him with securities fraud and wire fraud.
Terpin said the hoax prompted him to institute a policy requiring a
second level of editorial review before any press release is
distributed. But he maintained that news services receiving releases
also should confirm information on their own. ‘We can never guarantee
100% accuracy,’ he said. ‘That is the journalist’s job.’
Joe Strupp (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an associate editor for E&P.
(c) Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher