TV news stations air incorrectly identified ferry video from YouTube

A number of Canadian television news broadcasts aired a user-submitted video clip falsely labelled as a ferry battling rough seas in the Cabot Strait, reviving questions about how news organizations handle user-submitted content. The reports prompted some passengers to cancel their bookings.

The Canadian Press reports:

The dramatic 90-second video, which features a vessel caught in large swells as it slams into massive waves, was incorrectly identified as a Marine Atlantic ferry between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland on the popular website YouTube last week.

Since the weekend, parts of the clip were shown on Newfoundland's NTV, several local CTV News broadcasts around the country, Canada AM and Global's station in Halifax.

Viewers e-mailed the video to NTV - which passed it on to its national affiliate CTV - and to Global, the stations said.

None of the stations checked with Marine Atlantic, which thinks the video was shot off the coast of New Zealand.

Global anchor Allan Rowe, who is also the station's news director, introduced the clip in a Wednesday evening broadcast as a video "shot by one of our Global viewers."

"Given the time constraints and the subject matter of the video and the nature that we were using it, we clearly didn't review it as well as we should have," Rowe, who planned to broadcast a correction Thursday evening, said in an interview. "It won't happen again."

Robert Hurst, president of CTV News, said the network trusted the video it received from NTV, and stressed that an apology was aired as soon as CTV learned there was a mistake.

Still, he acknowledged that the popularity of sites such as YouTube poses a new danger for journalists.

"With this explosion, the challenge really is to make sure that we are not being caught or duped, to authenticate the source and the realism of this material," said Hurst.

NTV's news director, Jim Furlong, said the two reporters assigned to check out the video each thought the other was calling Marine Atlantic. In the end, no calls were made.

Prof. Mary McGuire, who teaches journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa, said the Internet gives reporters faster access to information, but mistakes become easier to make.

"The old rules about how you need to check and double check before you take things at face value, we need to bring those back," McGuire said in a telephone interview.

She said rumours and falsehoods can quickly turn into facts as they spread through the web, and professional news agencies need to offer a level of trust that YouTube and online blogs can't.

"I think educated news consumers look to news organizations for credible stuff," she said.

"It's what they have to offer that citizen journalists don't, the credibility of checking things out."

Marine Atlantic spokeswoman Tara Laing said the video prompted some passengers to cancel their bookings, but she said most of the fallout appears to be over.

"I think the fact that it went throughout the Internet was a big thing, because that allowed it to travel quite quickly," said Laing.

"Once it hit the mainstream media there is a perception out there that it's absolute gospel."

Here's the video:



2 comments about 'TV news stations air incorrectly identified ferry video from YouTube'


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Posted by new at April 28, 2010 3:38 PM

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