As news of Andy Murray’s win against Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon spread, and as the celebrations continued, news outlets in the UK and around the world were racing to get the story either on
As news of Andy Murray’s win against Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon spread, and as the celebrations continued, news outlets in the UK and around the world were racing to get the story either on the air, online or on the front page of the following day’s newspapers, trying to capture the excitement and the anticipation of one of the most significant matches in not just the history of the festivities at SW19, but also of tennis as a whole.
Murray and Britain rule after 77 years
Organisations took different approaches in covering Murray becoming the first British man to win the singles since Fred Perry in 1936, but the one that had instantly became the most notable was the coverage from The New York Times.
While praise was made for the story in its ways that describe the action on Centre Court, the headline which prefaced it became the centre of criticism: “After 77 Years, Murray and England Rule.” Criticism of the Times had quickly spread on Twitter about the headline, as the article was tweeted to the paper’s nearly 8.8 million followers. It was screen shot, favourited and retweeted by many, with words expressing distaste at how the paper treated it.
The Times however adjusted the headline: “After 77 Years, Murray and Britain Rule.” Yet, for the Times, it was too late, as the erroneous work was still there for all to see, despite posting the article with the new headline on Twitter. Additionally, the slug (the URL which accompanies stories when posted by an outlet) had not been adjusted to reflect the new headline, and the original tweet posted before the headline was modified, had not been taken removed by one of the Times’ social media editors.
Embarrassing and offensive
Angus Duncan, a trainee journalist and bartender in Scotland (and for the record, a writer for this publication), said the headline was embarrassing for the Times and offensive to Scots. Duncan added that the headline mishap had been hijacked for political gain by Yes Scotland, the campaign which advocates a yes vote on the nation’s independence from the UK, in a referendum scheduled for September of next year.
Spokespersons for the Times in London and New York did not immediately respond to requests by Kettle seeking comment on the headline.
Slowing down before publishing
It is acknowledged that mistakes are made when trying to cover a breaking story, and in the hunt of getting the most up-to-date information out to audiences as quickly as possible. Yet, at times, it is perhaps necessary to slow down and double check everything before clicking publish. One error may construe a message that did not want to be conveyed, or completely misinterpret an article, something, in the age of social media, no news organisation wants to achieve.
For the Times, that lesson had been learned the hard way, and serves as a reminder of never to do it again. In the age where social media, especially that of Twitter, is miles ahead in the consumption of journalism, and where reader reaction no longer is delayed—it’s instant, no matter how positive or sharply negative it may be.
What do you think of the Times’ error? How do you think Twitter has affected journalism and the role of news organisations covering a breaking story? Have your say in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.