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Daily Debrief: Apple's encounter with 'citizen journalism'It's not the first--and probably not the last--time that an unverified Apple rumor has made its way online and affected the stock market (in this case, temporarily). On the CNET News Daily Debrief, Charles Cooper speaks with Apple reporter Tom Krazit...
[ Music ] >>Did citizen journalism just fail a very big test? As a certain network is one to say, "we're gonna report and let you decide". Welcome to the CNET news daily debrief. I'm Charlie Cooper here with my colleague Tom Krazit. Interesting story today. Let me report this, CNN's iReport ran the following tip, quote, Steve Jobs was rushed to the ER just a few hours ago after suffering a major heart attack. It goes on to say they have an insider reports that paramedics were called. The source has opted to remain anonymous but he is quite reliable, quote unquote. Turns out that he wasn't so reliable. >>Tom Krazit: Surprising, huh. >>Charlie Cooper: Surprising and the stock went south in a hurry. >>Tom Krazit: Somebody made a lot of money today. Somebody committed a criminal act to make a lot of money on the volatility that is associated with Apple's stock and you know I'm sure there's going to be an investigation into that and it's really gonna be very hard for CNN to defend their process for allowing these comments to be posted. >>Charlie Cooper: And iReport, it's a sight which allows people to post unfiltered tips so unedited news tips, it's not a CNN story but yet it bears the imprimatur of CNN network . >>Tom Krazit: Absolutely, it's under their brand and they often do bring those stories into their main, I'm not sure whether they did that with this particular story or not but they often do bring their iReport stories into their main front page, you know, to highlight them. So they do promote that as a, you know, a section of CNN just like any other, so >>Charlie Cooper: As an experiment to bring the public into the reporting process. >>Tom Krazit: So far it is an experiment. We'll see how far it goes from here. But I think it's important to note to that had other blogs not picked up on this particular rumor and published it before verifying it this may not have turned into as big a deal as it is. I don't >>Charlie Cooper: What was the lifecycle of this rumor? >>Tom Krazit: Well, you know, it's hard to tell because these things, you know, go from zero to 60 in two seconds but it seems that someone posted this on CNN's iReport sight whoever it was, you know, around, you know, 9:30 east coast time, maybe a little bit later than that. And then a couple of blogs, perhaps the most prominent one was Henry Blodget, Silicon Alley Insider, picked up that post. I don't know whether they just randomly happened upon it or if somebody alerted them to it or what but picked up that post and put it in their newsfeed saying, "We don't know if this is true but hey, looks like Steve Job might have just had a heart attack", ooh, wouldn't that suck. >>Charlie Cooper: Since it's a rumor we're going to report the existence of the rumor but we don't know if there's any basis in fact. >>Tom Krazit: Yes, and you know they did say clearly in their post that, you know, they had no independent verification of the material at all and they put a question mark on the headline, which as we all know putting a question mark on the headline means, hey, we don't really know what's going on. You know, it's just, it's amazing to watch how these things snowball in this day and age. I mean, you get one little rumor and suddenly it turns into an event that moved Apple's stock significantly before Silicon Alley Insight was able to get Apple representatives on the phone to deny the rumor. >>Charlie Cooper: Because it's Apple this whole rumor of Job's supposedly being taken off to the ER acquired a life of its own because if anything attached to Apple there is such extreme reactions to it. >>Tom Krazit: You know that's true on products and on, you know, technology ideas that the company may be working on and it is especially true when it comes to Steve Job and his health. I mean, that's been one of the biggest issues around the company this year has been Job's health and his appearance and is he sick or is he not sick? Is he feeling better? That has a huge, huge impact on the stock and no rumor related to Apple is going to move this stock more than a rumor involving Steve Job's health and whoever posted that on CNN knew that full well, you know. [Background talking] It's gonna be very interesting to see how that plays out. I mean, it's very similar to an episode that happened last year to Engadget when they were sent a fake email from someone, obviously, you know, probably had the same idea in mind. >>Charlie Cooper: Reported to be from Apple's public relations department. >>Tom Krazit: Well, it was disguised as an internal, two employees kind of email, you know, they duped the headers, I mean, they did a decent job of making it appear to be a real email but it was a fake and it, you know, moved the stock after they published, you know, stories saying, "Hey, we got this email". Leopard delayed for another six months. So I mean, you know, it's just proof -- this is twice in two years we've seen the power of an unverified rumor to move the market in one of the most volatile stocks in the country and it's just amazing to watch. >>Charlie Cooper: Life on the internet. Thanks a lot, Tom. On behalf of CNET news, I'm Charlie Cooper. 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