The Globe and Mail wrongly reported that former NSA chief Michael Hayden was killed at the Los Angeles Airport shooting this morning.
The error was “an unfortunate mistake,” Globe and Mail executive editor Jill Borra told iMediaEthics by e-mail.
“We have practices and policies around confirming information, which unfortunately in this case were not correctly followed,” Borra added. “Minutes after the false information went out, we realized the error, corrected the story, added an editor’s note to the story making it clear that it was The Globe’s error, sent a follow up alert and follow up tweet. We’ve also sent a note to all staff reminding them of our policies and practices around accuracy and verification of information.”
Gawker posted a screenshot of the Globe and Mail article headlined, “Ex-NSA chief shot dead at LAX, Los Angeles Police say.” The article had the byline of “Reuters and Associated Press” and said:
“LAPD is reporting Ex-NSA chief Michael Hayden has been shot dead at LAX. Radical Christian group has claimed responsibility on its website.” http://i.imgur.com/PnYgWIO.jpg
According to Borra, The Globe and Mail‘s staff was responsible for the addition of the information about Hayden. “Neither Reuters nor AP reported the Hayden information,” she wrote. “This was included in the wire story by our staff. Our standard practice is to cite the source of the new information in this situation. Regrettably, this did not happen in this instance.”
Gawker also published a screenshot of The Globe and Mail’s tweet that read “#Breaking: Ex-NSA chief Michael Hayden shot dead at L.A. airport: report tgam.ca/DwHc #LAX.”
The article now is headlined “FBI investigating after multiple gunshots heard at LAX” and reports “Earlier reports that an ex-NSA chief was shot dead appear to be a hoax.” It also carries an editor’s note admitting to the error. It reads:
“Editor’s Note: In an earlier version of this story, The Globe incorrectly included as fact the hoax that a former NSA chief had been killed.”
The Globe and Mail has since tweeted about the report being a hoax.
Reports that ex-NSA chief shot at LAX deemed a hoax: wires http://t.co/RGs4k9tUT2
— The Globe and Mail (@globeandmail) November 1, 2013
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Gawker wrote that the claims of Hayden’s death originated on Twitter account @HardlineNews. That account tweeted:
— Broken News (@HardIineNews) November 1, 2013
The Globe‘s Borra confirmed that the tweet was the source of the bogus news. “One of our reporters forwarded the tweet, as an FYI to desk editors, without saying whether it was confirmed or not,” she wrote.
The @HardlineNews account was impersonating “the legitimate @BreakingNews account,” according to Poynter, which reported: “The fake account uses the same profile photo as Breaking News, and its Twitter handle substitutes a capital “I” for a lower-case ‘L.'”
Poynter added that Breaking News’ general managing and co-founder tweeted about the fake account.
UPDATE: 11/1/2013 4:47 PM EST: Updated with response from Globe and Mail.