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Summary:

Friday morning, a number of people jumped on an unverified report that showed up on CNN’s cit j channel iReport.com claiming — erroneously,…

Friday morning, a number of people jumped on an unverified report that showed up on CNN’s cit j channel iReport.com claiming — erroneously, as it quickly turned out — that Steve Jobs had a heart attack. Never mind that the site clearly bills material as unedited and unfiltered. SAI, among others, connected the words CNN and news, instead, ignoring the unverified aspect in favor of an “it could be true” approach. The Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) CEO’s health has been under the microscope — and concerns have moved the stock price on a number of occasions. Today’s report and the instant ripples had the same effect, sending the stock to a 52-week low before Apple’s denial could make the circuit, and raising concerns that someone was trying to manipulate the stock. CNN has been contacted by the SEC and, according to AP, has promised “to provide information about the posting.”

The hyperbole has this billed as the “first great test of citizen journalism” — which it’s not. It’s not even the second or the third. It’s also not a failure of an entire concept. People try to game systems whether its Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) message boards, automated press releases or upload sites, and some systems are easier to game than others. CNN and other media outlets providing space for unfettered contributions inevitably tied to their own reputations need to spend even more time thinking about how to handle what shows up there. But it’s up to us as journalists and sharers of information to decide how we make use of any unsubstantiated reports.

Case in point: the same report was submitted to MacRumors , which rejected it. Arnold Kim, who compares iReport posts to forum messages, has some harsh but true words (via AllThingsD): “If you want to blame someone for dropping Apple

  1. Very true, Staci. As someone who studies participatory journalism, I was surprised by the outburst of reports talking about this as a failure of citizen journalism. As I wrote on my blog – http://is.gd/3wxQ – we need to stop judging citizen media sites by the standards that we apply to established news outlets. It is like comparing apples and oranges. They are not the same and not intended to be the same. Citmedia sites tend to work on the basis of publish first, verify later.

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  2. The point is, news without verification isn't news at all, it's worthless. It has no value whatsoever, and that's the great lie at the heart of "citizen journalism" and much of the blogging movement.

    I'd sooner get my news from an organisation of individuals who are paid to verify, check, and make sure they got it right.

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  3. Tim, to take your comment a notch further, I'd rather get my news from an organization of individuals who could lose their job if they fail to adhere to standards.

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  4. I too would rather get my news from individuals who adhere to strict standards.

    I am a journalist who also teaches.

    I know, from brutal experiences, that newspapers save money on reporting by running blogs and rewriting the one press service they pay for-AP.

    Nobody checks either. Nobody is paid, or have the time, to do so.

    "Journalism" schools that sprouted across the country, and are run by people who did no journalism in 25 years, push for all students to graduate- to get better scores and personal paychecks. Research is not encouraged, fact checking is neither, professors are asked to put their lectures verbatim on the blackboard , provide study guides and go easy on grading.To accommodate as Lois Breedlove put it. She also asked her own journalism students to write up her own projects, with accolades, because the project survives on grant and has no other justification. Standards?

    The "graduates" are lazy, ill informed and greedy-perfect bloggers.

    Getting news is getting hard. It suits the ruling business-politic class very well,

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  5. Today’s report and the instant ripples had the same effect, sending the stock to a 52-week low before Apple’s denial could make the circuit, and raising concerns that someone was trying to manipulate the stock.

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