How not to break news online

Suw and I needed a good chuckle, and we got one with the Times’ coverage of the crash landing of BA Flight 38 at Heathrow. (I would expect this wording to change after a sub has had a more rigorous look at this. Or maybe not, the story hasn’t been updated for an hour.)

All available fire engine cover was deployed to assist the stricken flight BA38 from Beijing after it fell short of the runway, after reportedly approaching the ground at an angle. Three passengers are reported to have sustained minor injuries.

While one certainly wouldn’t want his or her flight to approach the ground at say a 90-degree angle, but if a plane doesn’t approach the ground at an angle, it might prove difficult to land at all. And according to the Times’, Gordon Brown only barely escaped injury or even certain death.

It is believed the stricken flight eventually came to a halt, just 1000m from the Prime Minister’s flight. There is believed to be no terrorist link.

Now, as an American not well versed in the metric system, even I know that 1000m is a kilometre, which as “Mike Bibby, St ALbans, England -not EU” says in a comment on the piece, “1000 metres? Thats not even a near miss!”

This shows us once again why news is too important to be left to the cult of amateurs.

But seriously, newspapers should break and update news online, as I’ve said before. However, after the initial crush of the story, you have to hone the piece. Don’t let sloppy writing stand.

UPDATE: Suw pointed out that there was interesting response to the broadcast coverage on Twitter and then later in blogs. Our friend Ewan Spence provided excellent rolling updates on Twitter, and had this comment about BBC News 24’s coverage:

Giving up on BBC News 24 coverage. Too emotional and trying to get passengers on mobiles to say words like scared, frightened. Radio 5 wins.

Our friend Vince had some strong words for ITV’s coverage:

Earlier in the same program they had an interview with one of the passengers who categorically stated that it felt like a very rough, but otherwise normal landing and it was only when they’d been evacuated from the plane and saw bits of aircraft and landing gear strewn across the grassy strip before the tarmac that they realised they’d had a lucky escape.

Yet when it comes to wrapping up, newscaster Mark Austin completely ignores the witness account – the facts – in favour of the sensationalist, unsupported hyperbole above.

Suw made the suggestion that more news organisations should monitor Twitter for instant reaction, not just to the news event itself but also to their coverage.

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