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TERRIBLE NEWS

Earlier reports—some of them still only minutes old—claimed that 12 miners trapped in a West Virginia coal mine had survived. Awfully, this now appears not to be so:

Stunned and weeping family members were told early Wednesday morning that 12 of the 13 miners trapped 12,000 feet into a mountainside since early Monday were found dead.

They were given the news about 2:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, just a few hours after being led to believe that all but one of the men were alive. Company officials confirmed the deaths at 3:06 a.m. and said a “miscommunication” stemming from an overheard cellphone conversation resulted in the spreading of the original information—that 12 were alive.

Imagine how the families must feel.

UPDATE: “Media reports say screaming and fighting could be heard outside a nearby church as a mining company official told relatives in a closed-door meeting that initial reports that all twelve miners survived are wrong.”

UPDATE II. Families believed for three hours that the miners were alive.

UPDATE III. One take on how this evolved:

The media is backpedalling as hard as they can to evade getting raked for this. To understand how, first we need this paragraph from an earlier CNN story:

A friend of one of the miners told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that a mine official had come out and said, “We got 12 alive!” The friend, who did not give his name, said rescue crews were then going into the mine.

Just now on CNN, that same Anderson Cooper just retold that story—but with a telling twist. What the network previously relayed as being a “mining official” according to that family member now is being described as “someone from the mine or the mining area.”

Anderson, that’s the sort of distinction you should have been chasing down four hours ago.

UPDATE IV. Naturally, it’s Bush’s fault.

UPDATE V. Published online ten minutes ago by the Chicago Sun-Times: “12 miners found: Relatives shout, ‘They’re alive!’”

UPDATE VI. A Media Bistro report from five hours ago:

CNN fired on all cylinders as the miners were rescued in West Virginia tonight. The network was first with the breaking news. Anderson Cooper heard cheers and church bells from the Sago Baptist Church, and the network had a camera outside the church where people were heard screaming “12 alive, 12 alive.”

And a subsequent Media Bistro report, posted about two hours ago:

After watching CNN’s breaking news coverage around midnight, a West Virginia woman walked to the Sago Baptist Church with her young son and daughter to rejoice about the rescue of 12 miners. She stopped by Anderson Cooper’s live shot for an interview. She said her family was heading to the church to celebrate.

At about 2:45am, she walked back to Cooper and interrupted his broadcast. There was fear and anger in her eyes. She said the families were distraught. Her son said they ran away as fistfights broke out. “Only one made it out alive,” she said. “There’s eleven that apparently did not make it.”

Cooper initially seemed skeptical of her comments, and nervous about repeating them on-air. “Where have you gotten this information?” he asked. But as he heard screaming from the church, and he saw other family members crying down the road, he realized it was true. “This is unbelievable,” he said. “I’m completely stunned.”

With the massive benefit of hindsight, this line—from an earlier AP piece that repeated claims the miners were alive—was a warning that went unnoticed:

Neither the company nor the governor’s office immediately confirmed that the men were alive.

In fact, according to a later item by the same AP reporter:

International Coal Group Inc. never confirmed that the 12 other men were alive.

My emphasis. CNN’s Cooper may be the initial source for this misreporting—well, no; the initial source was the nameless person Cooper spoke to—but rapid amplification and repetition of those claims throughout the media (FOX, MSNBC, everybody) created truth where there was none. It is understandable that journalists wanted this story to be true, but unforgivable that so many outlets ran with it in the apparent absence of any confirmation stronger than that provided by a friend of one of the miners, who did not offer a name, passing on information said to be from an unidentified mine official.

UPDATE VII. Zander writes:

According to reports, mine officials knew twenty minutes after the “good” news started circulating that it was bogus but they waited another three hours before telling the truth to the families.

Anderson Cooper blasted the mining company for its despicable behavior and asked the question on everyone’s mind: “Why in God’s name did they wait three hours to tell family members?”

Of course, another question might be: why didn’t the assembled media work harder to confirm the story before running with it as hard as they all did?

Quite so. And at Oliver’s Place:

The false news was never verified, and it spread like wildfire. No one bothered to get offical word that the miners were indeed found alive. The media kept saying the news was not verfied, but kept reporting as if it were true.

That seems to be an accurate summary.

UPDATE VIII. Strong piece by E&P’s Greg Mitchell: “In one of the most disturbing and disgraceful media performances of this type in recent years ...” Among the indicted are Rita Cosby, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the deputy secretary for the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety (quoted by the NYT saying that the rescued miners would shortly be taken to hospitals, although he added he was unaware of their medical condition), AP, CNN, the Chicago Tribune, a mining company spokesman, and Gov. Joe Manchin.

Posted by Tim B. on 01/04/2006 at 03:40 AM
  1. Most modern western males forget how hard, and how dangerous, most jobs used to be.  However, there are a few jobs left that could get a person killed.  Mining, working on a fishing boat that goes out into the oceans, driving long-haul trucks, being in the Army or Marines, being a big-city policeman, fireman, and not many others.

    I tried to think of one friend or relative that had a job that would cause their untimely end.  I couldn’t. 

    Me, I’m an accountant.  My two brothers are an electrician, and the supervisor of the janitors at a high school. 

    I have a cousin a who’s a minister, another that’s the chief of the tribal police force, and another that runs the tribal juvenile detention center, and one that’s a printer. 

    My best friends put together planes for Boeing, drive a forklift at a food wholesaler, manage a bowling alley, cook at a high-end restaraunt, work a crane as a longshoreman, and drives a mobile x-ray van. 

    None of us will meet an untimely death as a result of our jobs.

    99% of the people who read this website could not even begin to imagine what it must be like to go a mile down in a hole in the ground to earn a living.  I know I couldn’t.

    To the families of the men who died, I can only offer a prayer, and my deepest condolences.  The world lacks good hard-working men, and we lost 12 today.

    Posted by David Crawford on 2006 01 04 at 05:23 AM • permalink

  2. An utterly tragic and cruel reversal that would beyond comprehension. I hope the families and friends of the dead find comfort where they can.

    RIP

    Posted by James Waterton on 2006 01 04 at 05:25 AM • permalink

  3. I work on a nickel mine at the moment, pretty safe ground and a good crew though. Im more of a shiny bum than i am underground though (paramedic). There is another area about 20 km away with shocking ground conditions and the lost about 7 men in 2 years through rockfalls.
    Heart goes out to the families, and i hope they get looked after as well as the community can.

    Posted by thefrollickingmole on 2006 01 04 at 05:29 AM • permalink

  4. Misinformation in tragedies has occurred here and in the past ... I remember hearing reports of overdue airliners that have either landed elsewhere, or have crashed but there were many survivors, but in the end there were no survivors ... I suppose people will cling to any information that gives them hope ... a second element is the media printing or broadcasting anything without proper checking ... that has occurred here and in the past and will keep on occurring ... and sad news too ...

    Posted by Stevo on 2006 01 04 at 05:30 AM • permalink

  5. I was reading that they nearly all survived and thinking what a nice story this was

    It somehow makes it much worse to read that they survived and to then find out they didn’t, reading about the families thanking god their husbands and fathers were safe and one woman saying how she got scared but kept on going with the vigil because she couldn’t face going home and telling here 11 year old kid her father was gone etc, only to find out it wasn’t true.

    Man, this is awful.

    There’s no point blaming the media for this SNAFU any more than you could blame a dog for eating it’s own vomit. We all know what they’re like and, at the end of the day, they didn’t blow up that mineshaft, just came swarming in like the greedy, parasitic vermin they are to make everybody feel just a little worse.

    Posted by Amos on 2006 01 04 at 05:41 AM • permalink

  6. It’s just more soap opera.  Tragedy brought to you for your entertainment, which means for your eyeballs which are sold to advertisers.

    Soap opera edits the nation’s news and always will.

    ``They suffer still more!!’’  just makes it better for this audience, the Empathizers, numbering in millions.

    It used to be that empathizing was local ; some tragedy affects the neighborhood and dozens of women would get involved, because they’re attracted to it, and help out.  And it was actual help.  That’s the reason for the instinct in half of humanity.  The guys mostly are doing cold operations reserach stuff, and thinking about perverse side effects ; and the women are into direct action regardless.

    Parasitic on that good instinct, is watching fascinated and in tears at this or that soap-opera template event brought to you for the entertainment of just those instincts.  There your empathy does no good at all except to amuse yourself.  But you buy products, and can be sold to advertisers, and so that will eternally edit the nation’s story of the day until the universe ends.

    It’s not this or that media misstep, it’s willing to be entertained by tragedy, that’s the moral failing.

    Were it to finally stop, ``Once you can fake sincerity, you’ve got it made’’ will no longer work, no matter how good the anchors get at it

    Posted by rhhardin on 2006 01 04 at 05:44 AM • permalink

  7. #1 David:
    I thought accountants died of boredom ... seriously, mining is pretty dangerous and the families must’ve known in the back of their minds of this ... one large slab of my family was into mining here in Australia, from coal to gold mining, open cut and shaft ... I only know of one left in the industry, my cousin ... it’s spooky down mines, I’ve been down coal, salt, slate and gem mines ... anyway I agree that many of us shiny arsed pogos have it good and should spare a thought for the people who may give their lives in their work, and to the families of the miners in this tragedy ...

    Posted by Stevo on 2006 01 04 at 05:47 AM • permalink

  8. #6 rhhardin:
    It goes back to the question, do the media create the demand for titillating stories, or do they respond to the demand ... I certainly don’t go out of my way to be gratified by other peoples’ tragedies ... in fact the opposite from a strict upbringing, but that’s another story ... actually I don’t know the answer to the question I posed above, but I suppose it’s a bit of both …

    Posted by Stevo on 2006 01 04 at 06:21 AM • permalink

  9. Steveo,

    Me personally, I dislike most unions in the USA.  With one exception, the United Mine Workers.

    I get so tired of officials from the state employees union whining and crying, I’m sick to death of teachers unions acting like they’re being work to death, and I’m truly disgusted with Boeing machinists union officials opining like it’s 1879 Haymarket riot time in Chicago—basically one paycheck from starvation (for people who make around $100,000 a year.)

    But the UMW, they are truly a union that works hard for people doing a hard, dirty, and dangerous job.

    Hopefully, the Australian mine worker’s unions are working hard to make life safe for everyone that goes down in the ground.  (Versus being just another red flag mouthpiece.)

    Posted by David Crawford on 2006 01 04 at 06:21 AM • permalink

  10. Wonderful observations, David.

    I think a pretty strong case can be made for criticising Cooper. Just think of all the miners, paramedics, labourers and emergency service personnel doing their work at that tragic site. You can be sure they were all acting professionally and with incredible care. Was it too mcuh to ask that some dimwit reporter emulate their example in his own vocation?

    Posted by C.L. on 2006 01 04 at 06:29 AM • permalink

  11. A friend of one of the miners told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that a mine official had come out and said, “We got 12 alive!” The friend, who did not give his name, said rescue crews were then going into the mine.”

    I blame the MSM’s four levels of editorial checking myself.

    Posted by Craig Mc on 2006 01 04 at 06:45 AM • permalink

  12. On Fox and CNN, they are saying only one survived, the others were found dead.  The survivor is in critical condition, and is in the hospital.  God, please, let at least one person survive.  At least one person to to carry the story to of us about those that died.

    Posted by David Crawford on 2006 01 04 at 07:00 AM • permalink

  13. Earlier this arvo on channel 10, I think it was, the news was that the miners had survived except for one.

    And then, with the 6pm news, it all turns out to be a tragic error of reportage.

    That is appalling, and ‘news’ organisations at the source need a severe kicking.

    For the families of those lost, my prayers are with you (even though you won’t be reading this).

    Posted by Nilknarf Arbed on 2006 01 04 at 07:02 AM • permalink

  14. I blame the MSM’s four levels of editorial checking myself.

    The press, of course, will blame the pressures of competition.

    Posted by Rob Crawford on 2006 01 04 at 07:09 AM • permalink

  15. Rita Cosby (Crosby?) is reporting live that the families have been on an emotional roller-coaster, for emotional roller-coaster fans.

    A news sound bite from a berieved woman who is mad and promises to sue, not part of the soap opera template!

    This will cost eyeballs.

    Rita is blaming the mining company, because they _knew_ the survival story was false for two hours.

    At last it’s all turned into open farce everybody can enjoy now, not just the original audience.

    It’s always good when everybody’s worst character is drawn out

    Posted by rhhardin on 2006 01 04 at 07:18 AM • permalink

  16. Damn. I saw a “they’re alive” news report, and went to bed relieved.

    Rhhardin, you need to shut up now.

    Posted by Andrea Harris, Administrator on 2006 01 04 at 08:07 AM • permalink

  17. Coal mines are especially dangerous relative to other underground mining - in the old days they blew up all the time. Thankfully, this kind of disaster and death toll is very rare in the West, because we’ve learnt how to stop explosive coal dust from becoming suspended in air.

    Can’t say the same for China, where 100+ death tolls aren’t uncommon in their frequent coal mine explosions.

    Posted by James Waterton on 2006 01 04 at 08:09 AM • permalink

  18. Oops ... dispunge the word “opposite” from my above post, I meant the opposite ... get me? ... no? ... anyway, about unions David, my experience in Australia is that unions they look after 1. the executive and delegates of the union; 2. pay and perks of members; 3. safety ... I’m not too sure about the history of mining unions, but as a whole, most unions were militant in Australia up until the end of 20C ... not that I disagree with the concept of unions, I worked recently in a US owned company that rightly had pressure put on them over pay and conditions by a union ... going OT and another story for another day ...

    Posted by Stevo on 2006 01 04 at 08:23 AM • permalink

  19. Re: UPDATE V: it’s been extinguished from cyberspace ... however the page says ... “If you’re searching for a movie review by Roger Ebert, they can be found in the Review Archive” ... maybe they’re now making a movie of it ... a tragedy of a tragedy ...

    Posted by Stevo on 2006 01 04 at 08:34 AM • permalink

  20. Aussie mines are fairly strictly controlled by the mines department. We have regular visits from mines inspectors and they are both respected, knowledgable and feared.
    They can slap improvement notices on mines, or even prohibit activities if they are not satisfied with the safety.
    They are part of the department of minerals and energy here in Oz and as far as I know no company has “brought” one. Neither have I heard of a company winning a court case against one (they do have an appeals proccess).
    In the 6 months I have been at my current site they have removed one piece of machinery, issued about 5 or 6 improvement notices and one prohibition.
    I have great respect for them (and a little fear)

    Posted by thefrollickingmole on 2006 01 04 at 08:36 AM • permalink

  21. I’m being a bit picky, but the Mines Departments are state based, so they vary from state to state ... anyway, encouraging news ...

    Posted by Stevo on 2006 01 04 at 08:46 AM • permalink

  22. I recently read Orwell’s book “The Road to Wigan Pier”, about the dreadful working conditions in British coal mines in the 1930’s, it was truly grim. There is no doubt that conditions had improved by the 1980’s but mining was still a bloody awful job. However what gets me is how those in the left who excoriated the mining industry now get so misty eyed when they look back on the heyday of the industry. You simply could not employ British men to go down a mine today, and not one old miner would ever want to see his son become a miner, so why the nostalgia?

    Maggie Thatcher is demonised for being Prime Minister when the mining industry, as well as the steel and ship building industries collapsed in the UK. However does anyone seriously believe that young British men would ever consider committing themselves to such a career choice today? It seems the lefties in their staff rooms and editorial offices feel that mining and heavy industry should be the natural place for the working man and that they shouldn’t get above their stations and want jobs in call centres and expect holidays in Florida.

    I recall a big burly ex-miner from the West Midlands, he owned a bar he’d bought with his redundancy money in Tenerife, I talked to him vaguely lamenting the closure of the mines expecting him to agree, he replied “The day they shut down that b^stard pit was the happiest day of my life!”

    Anyway it’s a bit unseemly to discuss political issues at such a time my sympathies go to the families of those men, may God have mercy on them.

    Posted by Harry Flashman on 2006 01 04 at 08:54 AM • permalink

  23. Anderson Cooper might have an email such as .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you want to congratulate him on journalistic excellence ... CNNs email tend to go .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) ... like many companies ... I’m a bit rude, aren’t I ...

    Posted by Stevo on 2006 01 04 at 09:05 AM • permalink

  24. From cannibalism in NOLA to survivors in West Virginia the MSM has shown itself to be a very efficient rumor monger source. One that never seems to face any consequences.

    Nice gig.

    Posted by Mr. Bingley on 2006 01 04 at 09:10 AM • permalink

  25. Damn.

    Posted by tree hugging sister on 2006 01 04 at 09:11 AM • permalink

  26. so why the nostalgia?

    One reason: colliery brass bands + the existence of old gits.

    Posted by James Waterton on 2006 01 04 at 09:14 AM • permalink

  27. Tom Costello at the mine (how many goddam reporters does NBC have there?  I’m listening on Imus) says ``this community is just seething with anger.’‘

    Any emotion will do.

    ``It just made the agony so much worse.’‘

    So that’s the media angle now.

    Y’know, 10,000 other Americans died yesterday too ; every one of them important to somebody, and that somebody has still functioning sympathetic friends to rely on, a different set for different people, and society not on TV is still functioning as it was meant to, thanks in large part to the sympathy of women.

    Soap is parasitic on this, and constitutes porn for women.

    It’s possible the news can’t survive without it, as a business.  Nevertheless, it’s ruining the possibility of any public debate that might be serious

    Posted by rhhardin on 2006 01 04 at 09:16 AM • permalink

  28. Makes me think of the crazy pathetic woman wandering around Ground Zero on 9/11, claiming she was on the phone with her husband, still alive in the wreckage. At that point everybody was desperate for any kind of good news.

    Posted by Jim Treacher on 2006 01 04 at 09:16 AM • permalink

  29. The media feeds on itself. A kicked stone becomes an avalanche. An overheard miscommunication becomes a rumour becomes a fact becomes the truth becomes the news because everybody else is reporting it so. To stand against this, to report so much as a doubt even while staring at the loose ends, the notes that jar, the pieces which just do not fit, takes a rare courage.

    This sort of thing is common and is not confined to the media. But the consequences can be too tragic for words. As in this case. A few hours ago I was uplifted by what I took to be a genuine “good news” story. Like when they managed to rescue the crew of that sunken Russian submarine a few months ago. Who knows, perhaps even a miracle. Now this. I should have known better.  Those poor friends and family. Those poor people.

    If the media behaves this way in this type of situation imagine how vulnerable it is to deliberate misinformation. Think about how many times the “facts” get reported in circumstances where the truth is not so easily verified.

    Posted by geoff on 2006 01 04 at 09:18 AM • permalink

  30. #5 Amos, calling the media “parasitic vermin” is an insult to our host (weak pun unintended).

    I’m all for tough criticism of media mistakes, but really, rash generalisations like yours do a disservice to many fine people.

    Posted by slammer on 2006 01 04 at 09:21 AM • permalink

  31. The media is currently just above used car salesmen in the popularity stakes….rated by ordinary people not mediaphiles.
    “Parisites” sounding positively kindly- a description of the fourth estate.

    Posted by crash on 2006 01 04 at 09:36 AM • permalink

  32. They (the media) did exactly the same thing with the Israeli athletes during the Munich olympics.

    Only then - at least - they could blame the stunningly spasticated retardedness of the German officials.

    Posted by Mike Jericho on 2006 01 04 at 09:39 AM • permalink

  33. I know this sounds stupid, but with the media on the ground for 40 hours before the false report, wouldn’t you have thought they had time to at least line up some one with authority to confirm any reports before they start shouting rumors? Why no caveats? More lousy performance from MSM.

    Posted by Abu Qa'Qa on 2006 01 04 at 09:41 AM • permalink

  34. # 27 rhhardin:
    I know where you’re coming from, but shouldn’t we put the primary onus on teaching morals and values that you and I know onto parents? ... ok, that’s not working in many cases, where do we go next? ... the schools ... and now to the media? ... it should be a multi tiered strategy that targets all groups but focused on the family ... we don’t live in a society when you and I grew up ... no one solution will fit IMHO ...

    Posted by Stevo on 2006 01 04 at 09:47 AM • permalink

  35. slammer,

    Oh give it a break about these “many fine people”.

    These “many fine people” reported as fact something heard in passing, or that someone heard on their cell-phone, or that a friend of a friend of a friend told them.

    And did any of these “many fine people” get off of their lazy asses and go talk to the rescue crews and ask them what was happening?  No, of course not.  After all, getting off of their dead asses and talking to the rescue crews would constitute something resembling work.  And these “many fine people” don’t really do that.

    The “many fine people” are nothing but a bunch of lazy air-heads with nice looking teeth and a great haircut.  They’ve fucked up so many times that they are a joke.  (Example:  Reporting about hurricane Katrina and New Orleans.  Subject Number One:  Their reports of cannibalism.  Yeah, right.)

    Posted by David Crawford on 2006 01 04 at 09:49 AM • permalink

  36. I think something has happened to the news media—I’m not even sure it’s a new thing, but more of an ongoing problem that surfaces every time the members of the news media relax their guard (you know, those editorial controls that bloggers don’t have?): they start to think that because they, the News Media, are the ones reporting the news on tv, and have all the eyes of the nation and world on them, that they just can’t make any mistakes. I think this is the “root cause,” if you will, of things like running with a story on flimsy evidence, like the claim of an unnamed “friend,” or a letter that was supposed to be a thirty-year-old typed letter but instead turned out to be a computer-printed work of recent vintage.

    Posted by Andrea Harris, Administrator on 2006 01 04 at 10:11 AM • permalink

  37. OK, you’ve convinced me, they’re all parasitic vermin. Lousy bottom-feeding scum.  Journalists are lazy, shallow, air-headed fuck-ups.  The entire news media is populated by unscrupulous morons.  No exceptions.  Any more golden rules you want to share?

    Posted by slammer on 2006 01 04 at 10:13 AM • permalink

  38. I used to work in the news business.  I still do not understand how being “first” with a story—particularly when we’re talking about seconds/minutes—translates into higher ad revenues.  Which is, after all, the only reason networks still have a news division.

    One likely explanation is, being “first” makes the reporter look better in the eyes of his editors.  In this case it backfired.

    Perhaps there is cause for optimism.  Maybe Mr. Cooper, having gone face-to-face with the consequences of his recklessness, will be more deliberate in the future, and his colleagues will also remember this blunder.

    Posted by Rittenhouse on 2006 01 04 at 10:14 AM • permalink

  39. “Hopefully, the Australian mine worker’s unions are working hard to make life safe for everyone that goes down in the ground.  (Versus being just another red flag mouthpiece.) “—David Crawford

    Sorry to dash your hope but they are the same as any other Union.

    Posted by Gary on 2006 01 04 at 10:29 AM • permalink

  40. “According to reports, mine officials knew twenty minutes after the “good” news started circulating that it was bogus but they waited another three hours before telling the truth to the families. “

    That’s around the same amount of time my shift boss had us sitting in the underground crib room be before we were told one of the crew had half his face blown off.

    Fucking wankers!! The families are going through hell.

    Posted by Gary on 2006 01 04 at 10:31 AM • permalink

  41. Ah ... journalists ... can’t trust them as far as you can throw them ... some truth to that ... also known as a bunch of pissheads ... but I got a call from the local Fairfax paper today at 16:10 (missed the call on the mobile and called back) wanting information on local junior sport at a local level ... I’ve got a good relationship with them ... now about our State/National media ... Hmmm ...

    Posted by Stevo on 2006 01 04 at 10:36 AM • permalink

  42. Is it just me, or does Rita Cosby annoy the hell out of anyone else? That rabbit-like face, the machine-gun pace, raspy voice, the incessant references to “my sources”.

    A truly tragic story made worse by practically everybody connected with it.

    Posted by paco on 2006 01 04 at 11:00 AM • permalink

  43. Hmmm.

    “Dirty Laundry”

    We got the bubble-headed beach blonde,
    Comes on at five,
    She can tell about the plane crash,
    With a gleam in her eye.
    It’s int’resting when people die,
    Give us dirty laundry.
    Can we film the operation?
    Is the head dead yet?
    Y’know the boys in the newsroom,
    Got a running bet.
    Get the widow on the set,
    We need dirty laundry.

    ...

    It would be nice if the MSM would start acting like human beings rather than two-legged hyenas.

    Posted by memomachine on 2006 01 04 at 11:15 AM • permalink

  44. Slightly OT: not all reporters are scumbags. And of course we have the example of Tim, who would not, I am sure, rush a story like this based on an unsubstantiated claim by someone who just ran up and blurted something out.

    By the way, guess what was the substance of the headline on the front page of my local paper? And it’s too late to collect and burn all the copies of today’s edition. I’ll bet newspapers everywhere are regretting the decision to go to one release daily. (They used to have morning and evening editions of papers at least in big cities, where you could at least get retractions or clarifications of the morning edition mistakes.)

    Posted by Andrea Harris, Administrator on 2006 01 04 at 11:24 AM • permalink

  45. Journalists are lazy, shallow, air-headed fuck-ups.  The entire news media is populated by unscrupulous morons.

    Based on my experience, that’s the way to bet it, though.

    Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 01 04 at 11:40 AM • permalink

  46. I know that this is a different tack on the conversation direction… but…

    The way to eliminate, or at least minimize, deaths due to coal mining, is to build more nuclear power plants.
    ref: Dr. Petr Beckman, Access to Energy.

    Frank

    Posted by Franklin on 2006 01 04 at 12:32 PM • permalink

  47. Y’know, 10,000 other Americans died yesterday too ; every one of them important to somebody,

    Weird how these things are. I actually did used to have a hazarous job, and one day over the Atlantic in 1992 I was circling the aircraft carrier as five of my mates in an E-2C had a severe hydraulic failure and spent 20 minutes manfully trying to bring the plane on board, but they finally lost control and crashed into the ocean to meet their deaths. (You can’t eject from an E-2). 5 guys gone just like that—as far as I know that didn’t make the news.

    BTW people always criticize the miitary for being slow to offically release or confirm casualty information. Well, now you can see why they want to take their time.

    Posted by Supercat on 2006 01 04 at 12:39 PM • permalink

  48. “According to reports, mine officials knew twenty minutes after the “good” news started circulating that it was bogus but they waited another three hours before telling the truth to the families. “

    Ah.  More unattributed ‘reports’ (like the one erroneous one saying the miners were alive) cited by the MSM.  And this one shifts the blame over to the mine owners. Convenient, that. 

    An interesting article, with the sources actually named, can be found here.

    Posted by Achillea on 2006 01 04 at 12:48 PM • permalink

  49. #44- And of course we have the example of Tim…

    ... and a fine example he is. Neither “parasitic vermin” nor “lazy air-head”.  Beyond the permed stereotypes there’s plenty of people like him, doing their best to get the facts straight.  They’re probably more annoyed by this incident than most, seeing how it reflects badly on the industry.  They don’t deserve the slurs.

    Posted by slammer on 2006 01 04 at 12:51 PM • permalink

  50. Every news story I’ve ever seen/read that I had personal knowledge of or expertise in was inaccurate. Usually grossly so. I learned long before the blogosphere that reporters are usually wrong.

    Journalists are lazy, shallow, air-headed fuck-ups.

    That’s true of the ones I know in television.

    Agree completely with rhhardin’s thoughts on soap opera news. Fox is the worst offender with its absurd obsession with white, middle-class, young, attractive missing women.

    Posted by Dave S. on 2006 01 04 at 01:02 PM • permalink

  51. Beyond the permed stereotypes there’s plenty of people like him, doing their best to get the facts straight.

    Sadly, they’re usually not the ones rising to the high-profile jobs in journalism today. For network or all-news anchors, and prominent writers of national newspapers (or those pretending to be such), the “vermin until proven different” approach tends to be a good bet, as richard mc said in #45.

    Posted by PW on 2006 01 04 at 01:19 PM • permalink

  52. It’s very sad news.  My condolences to the families.  No doubt their grief was compounded by that horrible misinformation.

    rhhardin, perhaps I’m misreading you, but I’m not at all sure people are so fascinated by death and destruction because they’re looking to be “entertained”.  I believe, instead, they’re looking for information.  Did it hurt to die?  How horrible was the fear?  Did their families and friends cry?  These may seem like ghoulish things to contemplate, but we all know that every single one of us is going to have to face this someday.  And our frightened, little monkey minds want some kind of reassurance or preparation.

    Posted by RebeccaH on 2006 01 04 at 01:20 PM • permalink

  53. Geraldo Rivera just said that the media were victims.

    Posted by Donnah on 2006 01 04 at 02:12 PM • permalink

  54. Geraldo Rivera just said that the media were victims.

    Yes.  Victims of their own arrogance and stupidity.

    Posted by rexie on 2006 01 04 at 02:14 PM • permalink

  55. “Now all you vigilantes wanna make a move,
    Maybe they won’t, you know I sure hope they don’t.
    For whether this rumor proves true or false,
    You can forgive or you can regret,
    But he will never ever forget.

    Close your eyes, hang down your head,
    Until the fog blows away, let it roll away.
    Open up your arms and feel the good,
    It’s a-comin’, a brand new day,”

    —“The Rumor,” The Band

    Posted by chinesearithmetic on 2006 01 04 at 02:17 PM • permalink

  56. rhhardin and achillea are on top of the media spin and squirm.

    “According to reports, mine officials knew twenty minutes after the “good” news started circulating that it was bogus but they waited another three hours before telling the truth to the families. “

    Not only is the source, once again, as achillea points out, annonymous. 

    But could the company have known the “good” news was bogus because it was still trying to rescue the miners for the three hour ‘delay’ implied by media spin?  The implied charge that the company knew the miners were dead and withheld this information for three hours—more than two hours after bogus rumors circulated—is unsupported.

    Sneaky, dishonest language, from sneaky, dishonest people.

    Second, was the mining company responsible— amidst a life and death rescue operation—for straightening out media inaccuracies?

    You’d think after media’s self-congratulatory backslapping over Katrina coverage was shamed and silenced by what we learned in the wake of the storm they would hesitate, just a bit.  But you’d be wrong.

    Posted by cosmo on 2006 01 04 at 02:37 PM • permalink

  57. Geraldo Rivera just said that the media were victims.

    Geraldo Rivera - Exhibit A.

    Posted by Dave S. on 2006 01 04 at 02:41 PM • permalink

  58. #37 Slammer,“Any more golden rules you want to share?” Yes, those posting with nom “slammer” have the morals of a twisted weasel and the sense of a stopped up sink. What is the basis of this rule?  Consider #49 “They’re probably more annoyed by this incident than most, seeing how it reflects badly on the industry.” Well, now, do you think Tim Blair is simply “annoyed”, rather than grieved, outraged, fuming fire from his head? And simply because it looks “bad” for the “indusrty”? Not because of the harm that has been done to the families, the angusish and heartache that it has produced? And where are all those good people hiding in the MSM who don’t come forth to demostrate against its continual false, misleading reporting? The bloggers do it. You conjecture that these good people exist, but where is the evidence? You are awfully swell at making conjectures which have no support in reality.

    Posted by stats on 2006 01 04 at 02:51 PM • permalink

  59. Yes, the spin has definitely begun in the MSM trying to fob the blame off onto the mining company.  Just caught a piece on ABC in which the talking head actually said ‘somehow the mistaken information that miners were alive was conveyed to the families.’  Somehow?  Somehow?!  It wasn’t somehow.  It was CNN.  It was NBC and FOX and CBS and you Little Miss ABC.

    Somehow.

    Posted by Achillea on 2006 01 04 at 03:21 PM • permalink

  60. OT, and about time:

    We have a new, callipygian form in the “mulesing” ad, now isolated for your viewing pleasure.

    Sad eyes, turn the other way.  We like our PETA porn the way Al Bundy does: No faces!

    Posted by Rittenhouse on 2006 01 04 at 03:53 PM • permalink

  61. Geraldo said what? Mmmmmm.

    Journalists are just like the rest of us: some of them are disreputable buggers and the rest are decent if flawed.

    One thing I note is the increasing desire to turn every news story into a moment that looks good with a U2 or a Celine Dion song.

    Contrived emotion for soundbites.

    Dealing with the death of a loved one is hard enough, but wondering if they are gone, then feeling the joy of thinking they are alive and then having that dashed is just unimaginable.

    So unbearably sad for the people involved.

    Posted by Major Anya on 2006 01 04 at 03:59 PM • permalink

  62. Darlene, the hymns were sung at the vigil, premature celebration and mourning may not have had the appeal to the 18-to-54 upscale demographic that the marketing department can live with.

    Posted by chinesearithmetic on 2006 01 04 at 04:37 PM • permalink

  63. Strong piece by E&P’s Greg Mitchell: “In one of the most disturbing and disgraceful media performances of this type in recent years ...”

    Hello? Katrina? This is the second example in less than six months.

    Posted by Rob Crawford on 2006 01 04 at 04:55 PM • permalink

  64. Cooper’s berating of the company for not correcting the false information for three hours seems to be the classic reaction of someone who knows they’ve been caught out not doing their job properly.  Of course being on CNN he has a lot bigger microphone than the mine officials so can probably get away with it.

    I wonder whether other media outlets would ask the obvious questions and go after Cooper, or if there is some form of solidarity amongst media outlets that would stop them doing it.

    Posted by Francis H on 2006 01 04 at 05:17 PM • permalink

  65. #46 Franklin, agree.  It’s time for the US Senate to finally implement the “nuclear option”.

    Posted by Brett_McS on 2006 01 04 at 05:23 PM • permalink

  66. David #1,
          I believe that the top ranking most dangerous job in Oz is…....farming. More cockies die annually (mostly from machinery accidents) than in any other occupation. Hardly glamorous like fire fighting or deep sea diving but far more deadly.
    BTW a very good friend, a well heeled war correspondent of some considerable standing, is unprintably DAMNING in his criticism of contemporary journalistic practices (generally speaking let alone on Defence matters). Foremost he blames the tertiary institutions which produce lazy, left-leaning clones ready to set the world to rights rather than report the facts.

    Posted by 81Alpha on 2006 01 04 at 05:36 PM • permalink

  67. Geraldo Rivera just said that the media were victims.

    Wha… HUH?

    Posted by RebeccaH on 2006 01 04 at 05:44 PM • permalink

  68. This is one of the problems that the mass media faces with its reporting. It spread rumours like wild fire with many reporters taking their cue from what the other members of the media are saying.

    In emerging stories like these the TV media (and the Internet media) in particular are likely to fall victim to ‘reporting by rumour’.

    It does remind me though of the story about a year back about a family murder suicide. An early edition of the Daily Telegraph said something like “Dad slays family” and was subsequently picked up by the morning’s radio news.

    It turned out that it was mum who killed the family and the Tele made a default assumption.

    Both paper and radio stations apologised and corrected.

    —Nora

    Posted by The Thin Man Returns on 2006 01 04 at 06:00 PM • permalink

  69. When I need to get up especially early, I leave radio station WWVA, Wheeling West Virginia, on overnight. At 5:58 AM, you hear the mine bulletin board: “Glaxo Number Two Mine and Prep, will work as scheduled…Shoemaker Mine, will work as scheduled…” How cruel that on January 2, they worked as scheduled when most didn’t, and didn’t come home. (And how it overshadowed a famous Mountaineer football victory in the Sugar Bowl, moved because of Katrina, that would have brought so much more joy.)

    Posted by chinesearithmetic on 2006 01 04 at 06:02 PM • permalink

  70. The front cover of today’s New York Post early edition (since changed): “ALIVE!”

    I’m kneejerking in favor of the mine owners, mainly because the media decided this had to be SOMEONE’S fault before they even knew how many men were trapped below, and long before anyone knows for sure how it happened.

    Posted by Monroe Doctrine on 2006 01 04 at 06:10 PM • permalink

  71. #1 Don’t forget the construction industry in which many workers die every year. In our area, where construction and development is a major employer, men are killed every year in accidents ranging from falls and crane collapses to trench cave-ins and explosive power tool accidents.

    Most people in our local area would be shocked to know that probably a dozen new developments each year are paid for with a man’s life.

    Safety regs for mining vary from state to state in Australia, as someone noted, and indeed the union would appear to have safety low down on its agenda. In fact, the people working hardest in the name of safety in mining are the various mines departments’ public servants and inspection officers. But when state governments cut staff, safety suffers. This was one of the findings of the inquiry into the Moura mine disaster of the 1990s (they seem to have a disaster at Moura every 15 years).

    Also, sometimes workers themselves are their own worst enemies - they can be told by a safety officer to leave an area until it’s made safe and they’ll just carry on working. I know that happens regularly because I was told it by safety inspectors who’d seen it time and time again. We all do it, it’s just human nature, but in the case of people in dangerous jobs, it can risk their lives.

    Author Warren Farrell was thinking of the dangers of mining when he said that if the average secretary had to work in an environment where cables and chains hung from the ceiling, heavy equipment rolled by feet away and the roof could cave in at any moment, there would be no secretaries.

    —Nick

    Posted by The Thin Man Returns on 2006 01 04 at 06:30 PM • permalink

  72. Sad news. Traumatic for the families above.

    I was thinking about KP when my Bulletin arrived. It doesn’t matter who it is, they were someone’s son/parent/sibling/spouse/lover/friend - all or some of these names fit.

    Posted by kae on 2006 01 04 at 06:34 PM • permalink

  73. #1, #71 yes, and you can add farming to that list. There are myriad ways to get killed on a farm. Rolling a tractor, getting pulled into a machine, falling from a horse/motor bike are common ways. But you can also be bitten by a snake, get poisoned handling chemicals, crash an aeroplane/helicopter, get gored by a bull or have a tree fall on you. I’ll bet there was a farmer killed like this somewhere in Australia in 2005.  The number of non fatal injuries is beyond counting. Great way to make a living, but you better have your brain in gear.

    Posted by larrikin on 2006 01 04 at 06:52 PM • permalink

  74. Completely and totally OT: According to the Jerusalem Post, Ariel Sharon has had a major stroke and is ‘fighting for his life’ in a Jerusalem hospital.

    Posted by Achillea on 2006 01 04 at 07:06 PM • permalink

  75. It seems it was a terrible mistake all round. The emotional turmoil the immediate families must be going through must be undescribable.

    One report on radio this morning was that relatives had reacted (positively) to 1 (unofficial) mobile phone call message one person had received suggesting only 1 miner had died, and that message was passed it onto the other relatives without any offical confirmation.

    Posted by WeekByWeek on 2006 01 04 at 07:43 PM • permalink

  76. #75 No excuse for CNN, et al to report it as a fact.

    Posted by stats on 2006 01 04 at 07:50 PM • permalink

  77. #69 a couple recordings of the mine report from WWVA, from my vast collection of strange things you hear on the radio

    http://rhhardin.home.mindspring.com/wwvamine.ram (March 25, 2004)
    http://rhhardin.home.mindspring.com/wwvamine2.ram (October 15, 2004)

    the announcements themselves are recorded and will be identical every day, I guess unless something comes up.

    The last one is entertaining.

    Posted by rhhardin on 2006 01 04 at 08:17 PM • permalink

  78. Every news story I’ve ever seen/read that I had personal knowledge of or expertise in was inaccurate. Usually grossly so.

    #50, I agree with you completely on this. One newspaper article which ‘summarised’ a report we’d released last year had at least one substantial mistake in every sentence.

    I also saw an article on a confidential matter of which I had some first-hand knowledge which was completely wrong. It was supposedly based on a ‘leak’ but must have been completely fabricated. It was written by a journalist with a good reputation in a national daily.

    Posted by Art Vandelay on 2006 01 04 at 08:27 PM • permalink

  79. #78, My theory is that they’re not trying to get it right.

    The story itself, if it has technical detail, offends their audience, and will be rewritten to be wrong if it comes in right.

    That’s why eg., every aviation disaster story is always impossibly wrong on its face, always has been and always will be.

    The motor stalled on takeoff and the airplane plummeted to the ground.

    Ah, that’s happened to me, the motor stalling, thinks the audience, and all is well with the world.

    Posted by rhhardin on 2006 01 04 at 08:33 PM • permalink

  80. My theory is that they’re not trying to get it right.

    #79, I agree. The first example I cited above could have been due to laziness but it seemed more likely that the facts didn’t suit the story they wanted to tell. The second example was pure political bias (which became evident after an investigation of this guy’s articles over time).

    Posted by Art Vandelay on 2006 01 04 at 08:39 PM • permalink

  81. #78,79,80.  My theory is that they are not even trying to get it right

    Have you ever made up a rumour - knowing it to be wrong - and then later overheard people discussing it as if it were true?  Gives one a certain (creepy) sense of power.  Now imagine that one could make up a story and have almost everybody in the country discussing it next day, believing it to be true.

    I would be surprised if there were not a certain element of that going on in the psyches of our esteemed media-ites.

    Posted by Brett_McS on 2006 01 04 at 09:28 PM • permalink

  82. #64 I wonder whether other media outlets would ask the obvious questions and go after Cooper, or if there is some form of solidarity amongst media outlets that would stop them doing it.

    As I was driving home tonight, and listening to WCBS am from New York, they described the ‘good’ news as being spread by folks on their cells phones and by word of mouth; not a single mention of media overexhuberance, let alone culpability.

    So methinks that’s your answer.

    Posted by Mr. Bingley on 2006 01 04 at 09:28 PM • permalink

  83. Greetings for the New Year from the only place on the map which was covered by sunshine today—Florida!

    My grandfather’s family left West Virginia mining country for northeastern Montana, where he became a dryland farmer & teacher. For which I am truly thankful. “October Skies” by Homer Hickam told me all I wanted to know about mining, and my heart aches for the families in the latest tragedy.

    Posted by KC on 2006 01 04 at 09:48 PM • permalink

  84. Hey, we had sunshine here in Southern California, too!  The only clouds were metaphorical ones.

    Posted by Achillea on 2006 01 04 at 10:52 PM • permalink

  85. Every news story I’ve ever seen/read that I had personal knowledge of or expertise in was inaccurate. Usually grossly so. I learned long before the blogosphere that reporters are usually wrong.

    That is so close to my thoughts on the subject (right down to the wording I would have used) that it’s frightening.

    I’ve felt that way for most of my life, but one of the things that really rammed home the point for me was the coverage of 9/11.  The endless ignorant speculation by so-called ‘experts’, and the way every rumour was reported as a fact (then completely contradicted later), made me vow to never again watch rolling news coverage of a disaster.  This incident shows that nothing at all has changed since then.

    Posted by jic on 2006 01 04 at 10:57 PM • permalink

  86. #58- Nice spray, stats, but trying to win the argument by shouting the loudest is all you’ve got? 

    Evidence of good people in the media?  He runs this blog, dimwit.

    Posted by slammer on 2006 01 05 at 02:01 AM • permalink

  87. #86, Slammer, Weak attempt to hide your moral cecity and your inability to understand a written sentence. First, you ignore your own words which reveal your lack of humanity. (Re-read them in #58.)Second, you respond to my question, “And where are all those good people hiding in the MSM who don’t come forth to demostrate against its continual false, misleading reporting?” by giving Tim B. as an example. I will try to help you out in interpreting my question, assuming nuance is not beyond you. The phrase “all those people” refers to your implied large group of journalists who are all fuming at the crimes of the MSM. Yes, there are individuals like Tim, Krauthammer, et al, but they are a few voices in the wind as compared to those who populate CNN, NYT, etc. Note, I did not ask for “evidence of good people in the media”, as your response states, I asked ‘where is the DEMONSTRATION by ALL THESE PEOPLE which would indicate their existence’. I cannot hope that this explanation will aid you in understanding the obvious, considering your fixed views and moral obtuseness. By the way, you could have not been less witty in the choice of “dimwit”. At least you have a good memory for ripostes learned in pre-school.

    Posted by stats on 2006 01 05 at 10:00 AM • permalink

  88. Have you ever made up a rumour - knowing it to be wrong - and then later overheard people discussing it as if it were true?  Gives one a certain (creepy) sense of power. 

    Ha!  I know a guy who used to do that on the religion forums at AOL.  He’d make up a buncha malarky about, say, Atlantis, complete with internal contradictions and everything, post it, and ignore it for a week.  Then he’d go back to see how much fighting had broken out, how the posters were correcting one another over the details of his fable, etc.  And THEN he’d try to debunk his own story by admitting the prank.  This NEVER worked, btw.  His retractions were generally dismissed out of hand by the locals, he was “an imposter,” etc etc etc. 
    Oh the human mind is a funny thing.

    Posted by Stoop Davy Dave on 2006 01 05 at 01:33 PM • permalink

  89. #87- You’re scraping the barrel now, mate.  Pedantry, thy name is stats.

    Posted by slammer on 2006 01 05 at 09:09 PM • permalink

  90. #89 Slammer, Typical of an ignorant fool; answer an argument by name calling. Only proves the old adage: Can’t win an argument with an ignorant fool.

    Posted by stats on 2006 01 05 at 09:19 PM • permalink

  91. #89 Slammer, Typical of an ignorant fool; answer an argument by name calling.

    Oh statsy, you’re priceless.  The self-awareness of a shrub.

    Posted by slammer on 2006 01 05 at 10:52 PM • permalink

  92. #66 Too right they’re all (cept Tim)
    lazy,shallow,air headed,conceited f us because they are all trained that way by lazy,shallow etc -in their own image.
    BBC has “decided against playing all Mozart’s works consecutively (as they did with Bach last month and it was a huge hit)-because music that people love can alienate intellectuals.Critic applauded their decision saying that"people were impatient with Mozart’s perfection and were coming to admire a sense of struggle in music.Mozart is too easy to be taken seriously.”
    ABC’s classic fm does not appear to have anything similar in mind for Mozart…source Oz newspaper.
    also ..Political correctness,it seems is threatening British society by “poisoning the wells of debate” and encouraging a “victim mentality”.Think tank CIVITAS claims the spread of “intolerant and sanctimonious” pc had gained a “vice like grip”,censoring public discussion of critical issues.
    It accuses the BBC of pandering to pc agenda by blackballing groups that dare to question orthodox views including the independent think tank Migrationwatch.
    By encouraging m/c instead of racial integration,pc “allowed the creation of alienated Muslim ghettoes which produce young men who commit mass murder against their fellow citizens”, it is claimed.
    Anyone who does speak out risks branding as racist,sexist,homophobic and is
    deemed a viable target for personal abuse.
    The report,titled The Retreat of Reason singles out the BBC,blaming it for carrying “dishonest accounts” rather than facing uncomfortable truths.
    Anthony Browne revealed how the BBC refused to broadcast an interview in which he pointed out that migration from Africa had overtaken sexual transmission as the main source of new HIV cases in Britain,a fact confirmed by the Public Health Laboratory Service.
    He recorded an interview for BBC radio4’s Today programme to accompany a news report on a 25% increase in HIV cases.But he was dropped and replaced by a Labour minister,who claimed that more use of condoms would help stop the increase.
    Browne warned “the episode was an example of the increasingly frequent AVOIDANCE of PUBLIC DEBATE in Briain,the politics of DENIAL which is more than just a BETRAYAL of the British public…” source Oz.

    Posted by crash on 2006 01 06 at 06:21 AM • permalink

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