A balloon racing across the Colorado sky without a 6-year-old boy inside. A major lobbyist not changing its position on climate change. A shootout with terrorists on the Potomac River that never happened.

It’s been a rough season for non-news.

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The recent spate of hoaxes and premature stories exposes a dangerous fault line for journalists in the world of second-by-second news.

Each situation was unique. But they all diminished the credibility of news organizations at a time when the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press has reported that 63 percent of Americans believe news stories are often inaccurate—the worst report card it has ever seen.

“Speed is always a threat to accuracy, and the faster we can go the more jeopardy the truth is in,” said Deborah Potter, a former CBS News reporter and executive director of the News Lab think tank.


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