The Newsroom

Danger of Single Source Reporting

Sky News (October 2004)

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Another classic example of this this afternoon on Sky News- reporting an arabic TV channel in saying that former Iraqi deputy-PM Tariq Aziz had died in US custody.

They interupted their rolling coverage to talk to several commentators, at times referring to Mr. Aziz in the past tense.

Had they checked their source however, they would have realised that the arabic TV channel were quoting the International Red Cross, who have said they have no knowledge of Mr. Aziz's condition.

It's a dangerous game single source reporting. Sky's explanation is HERE

However, a spokesman for the US-led prisons authority in Iraq said: "I can confirm that Tariq Aziz is alive; he was alive five minutes ago.
News 24 also reported the claims that Aziz was dead, and the subsequent denial. Though from the bit that I saw they were more circumspect that Sky News, who had Con Coughlin on the line with an instant obituary, which they had to interrupt with the news that the man in question was alive and kicking.

As you say, a classic case of "never wrong for long"...
Indeed it was a treat to watch Sky News break into a report and proudly announce that Tariq Aziz was dead, running obituarys and even getting Con Coughlin on to talk about what his death will mean "for ordinary Iraqis".
News 24 were much more circumspect having only broken the story when they had a correspondent live in Baghdad, in which she said she'd heard the reports... but that they were unconfirmed.

Once the US military categorically said that he was not dead News 24 did it has a news update. Sky (as it always does when it gets things wrong) started to talk of "confusion over the fate of the former Saddam deputy.

I've noticed that whenever Sky are reporting of "confusion" in a story it's generally code for "we got this wrong but instead of apologising we're going to say we're confused"

Some light relief from Peter Sissons on News 24 referring to the earlier reports that Tariq Aziz was dead, and the subsequent US military denial. Sissons helpfully noted that, of course, Mr Aziz cannot be both.
Nick Harvey Founding member
Rather like Tony Bliar, Sky appear to have a stockpile of apologies which they COULD deploy within forty-five minutes.
Nick Harvey posted:
Rather like Tony Bliar, Sky appear to have a stockpile of apologies which they COULD deploy within forty-five minutes.

Who's been watching Bremner, Bird & Fortune? Wink
Sky News Australia broke that news during their election coverage as well...with no follow ups I guess.

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