Mistaken media reports of Arizona Rep. Giffords' death labeled worst journalism error of 2011

One year after the Jan. 8 shooting in Arizona that prompted NPR and other media outlets to incorrectly report that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had been killed, Poynter looks back at how so many journalists got it wrong. Poynter even named the false reports of Giffords' death the worst error of 2011.

New digital technologies like Twitter make it easier for mistakes to happen -- and to happen in public view --, but also make it easier for mistakes to be corrected faster, Craig Silverman wrote for Poynter. "The sausage was being made in front of our eyes, with all of the messiness that analogy implies," he wrote. "Mistakes have always been a part of journalism, and they always will be. Breaking news presents one of the most common and pervasive opportunities for error. Our new networked world means they can flow farther and faster than ever before. But we can also be alerted to our mistakes faster, and have better access to sources and information that enable us to make the right call."

At the time, Silverman created a great Storify tracing the erroneous media reports sent out via Twitter, and then their corrections.

Not all reporters got it wrong, so the challenges of using digital technologies for journalism do not outweigh its potential advantages. Training, such as the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas' "Social Media for Journalists" online course, or resources on how to use Twitter in the newsroom, and other guides for online journalism and social media ethics could help journalists take better advantage of what social media has to offer, while avoiding unfortunate errors.