The trial and subsequent appeal of Amanda Knox (and don’t forget Rafaelle Sollecito) for the murder of Meredith Kercher have made gripping following over the past few years. Last night it all came to a head when the Italian appeal court cleared Knox and Sollecito, who this morning have their freedom.
However, if you were watching Sky News or reading live web coverage from The Sun, The Daily Mail or The Guardian, you might have thought the opposite, as they all initially posted stories that Knox had lost her appeal, implying she would be behind bars for the remainder of her 26 year jail term.
In fairness, it wasn’t just the UK media that got it wrong. One AFP journalist even tweeted a ‘quote’ from the case’s prosecution team, stating that “justice had been done.”
So just how could this happen?
The Daily Mail claims that it got muddled when it heard the judge use the Italian word for ‘guilty’, and presumed it referred to Knox’s murder charge. In fact, it was in connection to her previous conviction for slander.
This has to be one of the most extreme examples of how the desire to be the first to break the news can compromise the quality of the story.
With today’s 24 hour news cycles – and our insatiable appetite for news (especially around high profile cases like this) – it’s hardly surprising that journalists prepare two (or more) versions of their story in advance, but it really is inexcusable to publish the wrong one.
Italian lessons anyone?