The internet killed “Somebody I Used To Know” singer, Gotye, today in another celebrity death hoax. Don’t worry guys, he’s very much alive! The star even tweeted, “I’m not dead #Pinkalbumtitles” A post on CNN iReport stated, “At 4:32 AM EST, it was reported that Gotye had shot himself in the head with a 9mm handgun. He was pronounced dead at 4:45 AM, and the investigation concluded that the cause of death was suicide. It was confirmed shortly after by family and friends. He was quickly taken to the Central Montmorency Hospital, but died from his injuries shortly after. His family has stated that they plan a closed funeral.” The post has since been removed, but the savvy folk over at Zap2It screen grabbed it. This is just another case of “the internet killed a celebrity.”
But this brings up an important issue. These things happen all the time. There are always hashtags on Twitter about some celebrity dying or false articles, but what about when fact-checking fails? CNN’s iReport is user-generated content and isn’t checked unless it’s really compelling. In fact, here’s a statement from their website, “The stories here are not edited, fact-checked or screened before they post. CNN’s producers will check out some of the most compelling, important and urgent iReports and, once they’re cleared for CNN, make them a part of CNN’s news coverage.” So basically, unless the story generates a lot of hype, CNN’s team won’t check it. Um, what?
iMediaEthics spoke with Matt Dornic, a senior director of public relations for CNN Worldwide, and asked if they would post a correction or editor’s note. He explained that the community basically checks itself, “So the fact that it’s not available anymore shows to me that the community acts exactly how it’s supposed to,” Dornic said. Sure the internet is filled with rumors. I’d even go as far as say that it’s fueled by rumors. But how does this fair for CNN? Wikipedia is known for not necessarily being a reputable source (granted, I used Wiki all the time in college) but CNN is supposed to be an ethical news organization.
I know, I know. Ethical and news don’t really go together these days. As a journalist, I’m disappointed that such a large organization allows these things to happen with such a nonchalant attitude. Even though the purpose of iReport is for users to get together and experience social media news, it seems irresponsible for CNN to not fact-check what’s coming through.
What do you think? Should CNN fact-check all of their iReports? Does that take away from the experience of iReport?
[Image via Zap2It]
Caitlin is a graduate of the University of Alabama who has an obsession with cupcakes, coffee, and Harry Potter. She always has random fun facts on reserve and aspires to be a professional blogger, social media bug, and/or James Franco’s assistant. Follow her fabulous life @caitlincorsetti. You’re welcome!