Wednesday, September 10, 2008, 3:48 PM

United Airlines, meet the press

United Airlines and its shareholders endured the bumpiest of rides on September 6th when Bloomberg released a story stating that the airline had just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The problem? The article on which their report was based was six years old. Within minutes the stock was in a free-fall, plunging as much as 75% before trading was halted and the inaccurate report was pulled.

It's a long and sordid tale, with many fingers being pointed in different directions. What strikes me about this Poynter article is how the incident pits new media (Google) versus traditional media (The Sun Sentinel and Bloomberg).

The bizarre incident should reinforce for all of us the lightning speed at which news travels today, and the imperfections of automated technology. It also reinforces that reporters, like the rest of us, are human. The question is not whether reporters will make mistakes in their coverage; the question is how your organization responds when they do.

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