Tuesday night— election night— was stressful enough for all of the good people involved in the contest for the First Suffolk District State Senate seat. It was made more stressful – and anguish-ridden – than it needed to be because erroneous press reports were circulated about the final results by trusted news outlets.
The Associated Press inexplicably “called” the election for Rep. Collins around 9 p.m.— setting off a series of incorrect reports by other media, including Boston.com. The Reporter’s Gin Dumcius heard those reports, too, but wisely waited until he could independently ascertain the real facts from his sources within the campaigns. As a result, with his first posted story on dotnews.com, he and the Reporter got the story right. The AP and others had to “re-call” their calls.
Imagine yourself as a volunteer who had spent a long day at the polls for your candidate first hearing the “news” as reported by the AP, and then having it undone when later voting results began coming in. This was an unfair and cruel blow to deliver to both sides in the campaign. It was especially unfair, though, to folks who’d been told their candidate had won only to hear later on that it was not the case.
Folks in our news business must do better. I know first-hand how much we all want to get the story first. But we’ve got to get it right, especially in instances like this.
As the publisher of the Reporter, I am proud that our news outlet and our editor got this right. As the husband of the candidate who won, I am obviously pleased with the eventual outcome. But I am disappointed that people in my business blew this one so badly. They should apologize.
– Bill Forry