ABC News Data Test, or Did Santorum Win Illinois?

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We all know that sometimes mainstream media can publish too soon, get the parameters around a story wrong, or to put it in simple words for TV and radio: a screw up. In the data age, it is a different matter. The pressure to be ahead of the competition creates some amusing tweets and Facebook posts, but becomes somewhat surreal when a mainstream news outlet, namely ABC Chicago, launches an election page with erroneous data, 24 hours ahead of the vote. (maybe shows a bias?)

ABC SantorumThis web page was tweeted to me as a direct (private message) from @BC_News_Addict, with concerns. Was it a spam web page masking as an ABC portal , or could US election communication regulations be so regressive as to call a vote, before people have a chance to cast a ballot? At the time of this post it appears the webpage from ABC Chicago was simply a mistake. A data mapping staffer, or journalist, or editor, maybe entered a test page as a live link. (and note, the page was taken down by ABC as of 23:30 PST)

No matter. Testing data integration, especially for political journalism, is essential. It should be within a private module – one where designers, data technology experts, and lawyers get together over coffee, and firm up what can be accomplished within a media editorial board. What happened this evening is the opposite – the tech, and editorial at ABC failed, and went public.

It is a clear example of mainstream media, a national broadcaster, dealing with ever changing IT, web formats and social media, making mistakes. What makes it relevant, it could affect votes.

All graphics are computer screenshots credited to @BC_News_Addict

The question – this is now public. Will it affect the vote? Unlikely coming from a Canadian source. This news came out well over 24hrs before the vote, yet no one reported. Why? Is it journalism protecting democracy? How will ABC deal with the leak?

 

 

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