What am I supposed to think when your story changes?

I was reading the news this morning when it happened again.

I see this story on Fox News mobile app…

‘HE WAS JUST RELAXED’: Suspect Seen Partying 2 Nights After Bombing… Report: Suspect Tweeted ‘Stay Saf…

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The story about the younger suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing goes on to quote various “chilling” Tweets implying that friends should stay out of the area, and one from his brother (they think) that specifically mentions jihad.

My wife and I were discussing the case, so I pulled up the story again to quote the tweets, and I was surprised to see that the story no longer contains any reference to the tweets. The snippet on the story link still has the teaser, but the article has been edited to remove that content.

The first few times this sort of thing occurred, I assumed the error was mine, or gave the benefit of the doubt to Fox. Perhaps in the confusion around the Sandy Hook murders, for example, they got incoherent or inconsistent information from law enforcement and the poor coroner, and perhaps the memorial page created before the murders was a server timestamp error, etc. But at this point, these edits have become sufficiently common to warrant suspicion.

Is editorial oversight so weak for online content that gross misinformation makes it live on a regular basis? Are major news outlets under pressure to ensure their stories adhere to a social or political agenda? Why do news outlets feel free to change online content substantially without some footnote to indicate the change? If this were live television, we’d expect to hear “… and this just in: earlier reports that blah blah blah were incorrect, blah blah blah,” shouldn’t we expect the same from written content?

What am I supposed to think when your story changes, oh peddlers of news and information? Are you incompetent? Are you under pressure from some coercive power? Are you valuing something more highly than you value accurate and truthful journalism?

Freedom is comprised of rights and responsibilities; freedom of the press brings with it the burden of responsible reporting, and taking the biblical advice to avoid even the appearance of evil is part of that responsibility. The crazies are always going to hurl charges of conspiracy; do you have to pass out ammunition?

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