Media's mining tragedy preserved on the Web

The media's reporting of erroneous information about the rescue of 12 miners in West Virginia is tragically on display with a simple search on Google News for "miners rescued."

This is a sampling of the resulting headlines that were returned Wednesday morning: "Jubilation as 12 US miners rescued," "Twelve miners rescued" and "12 of 13 W. Va. Miners Rescued After More Than 40-hour Ordeal."

Of course, the reality was that there was a "miscommunication" about the fate of the miners, which resulted in a three-hour period between midnight and about 3 a.m. EST in which the press--relying apparently on reports from the families--wrongly reported that 12 men had survived. Many of the stories were posted on the Web, and many also made it into print. Editor and Publisher has a good article on the media coverage.

As of 2 p.m. EST--some 11 hours after the truth became known, the New York Times still had the optimistic but wrong headline posted on its Web site on the page listing front-page stories. also has a remarkable audio slide show chronicling how elation turned to anger for the miners' families.

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