The “Breaking News” Issue: Social Media Fail

You may have heard over the weekend that former Bruins coach Pat Burns “died.” If that was news to you, you’re not the only one.

It was also news to a very much alive Pat Burns. The rush to be the first site, radio station, channel etc to break a story seems to have eliminated the need to verify stories or check facts.

One of mainstream media’s biggest problems in the media vs blogger war is that they says bloggers are unreliable and don’t fact check.

But as these situations arise more and more, mainstream no long has the “journalistic integrity” argument.

Multiple “reliable” sources quoted, retweeted, republished, etc an erroneous story that Pat Burns had died, likely sending many friends, family members and fans around the country into a state of shock and extreme sadness before realizing that once again some idiot decided to report a rumor as fact without verifying first. Not to mention the harm it caused Burns’ immediate family who likely received calls expressing condolences.

The desire to break the story first rather than get the story right seems to be a common theme these days.

“Here we go again,” Burns said. “I come to Quebec to spend some time with my family and they say I’m dead. I’m not dead, far f—–g from it. They’ve had me dead since June.”

Still as fiesty as ever…

The fact this spread so fast just goes to show that most these days don’t care about credibility, they just want to say they got the story up as quick as possible. The more this happens, the less people will believe mainstream media. And that doesn’t really separate them from the bloggers, now does it?

“A phone call to the family to verify the news might have halted the wildfire earlier, but no one made that call because the important thing was to get it on Twitter first, and worry about whether it was accurate later,” wrote Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun.

Everything is a race. Everyone wants to say they were the first that reported something, as if it matters. It’s like those people that go to an article and write “First!” in the comments section. Really, who cares if you were first? Get the story straight first.

We are sometimes at odds with Scott Burnside’s opinions here at Days of Y’Orr, but he pretty much nailed it with this quote:

“What a proud day for Twitter journalism. People tripping over themselves to be first to report a man’s death.”

I think that is what makes this situation even worse. There was a race to be the first to report that a man died. People out there wanted to be the person who broke the Pat Burns death story. Sad day for social media if you ask us.

And then afterwards, the same people in a rush to break the story started pointing fingers at everyone and anyone to place the blame for the erroneous story, ignoring the fact that they themselves had quoted it. Pathetic.

But at the end of the day, Pat Burns is still alive. If there was anything positive about the whole debacle it was that the story was false.


How soon before mainstream media gets the “boy who cried wolf” treatment? Now we “eagerly” await the next instance of a blatantly false story that spreads like wildfire because no one wants to take the time to confirm. Have fun being first. We’ll just wait for the correct story, not the first story.

About Trashboy Jon

Jon loves Batman, The Joker, the Bruins and hates you. Especially you. He has a man crush on David Backes and hopes to someday be Mrs. Jon Boychuk.