First!

The race to be the first to post a story online [1. Or, more often, regurgitate a story.] frequently causes problems. For example, this morning I saw a headline on Boy Genius Report (BGR), “New Jersey bans texting while walking“:

“Fort Lee, New Jersey passed a new law earlier this year that fines walkers $85 who do not stop prior to texting. ‘It’s a big distraction,’ Fort Lee Police Chief Thomas Ripoli said. ‘Pedestrians aren’t watching where they are going and they are not aware.'”

BGR linked Huffington Post as the source, so I clicked the link for more of the story. HuffPo’s headline reads, “Texting While Walking Ban: Fort Lee Imposes $85 Fines On Dangerous Texters [CORRECTION].” As soon as I see “correction,” I think, “Uh-oh.” The HuffPo story begins with a link to a story at MSNBC, entitled, “New Jersey town’s police chief: No, we didn’t ban texting while walking.” Oops.

I can forgive HuffPo for this gaffe, as it appears to have been the starting point. Its writers simply got it wrong. But BGR parroted the story without hesitation (as did many others). Plus, as of this writing, BGR hasn’t updated its headline or story.

This happens all the time. Yesterday there was a story going around that Best Buy had just put Apple Macintosh computers on sale. Before we posted it at TUAW, I called Best Buy and was told that the sale has been going on for “over a month.” So yes, the Macs are on sale but no, the price drop isn’t new.

I realize that every tech blogger can’t independently confirm every single story. Still, it took less than five minutes for me to call Best Buy. I’d rather be right than first any day.