WTTG Burned On Navy Yard Non-Shooting

Fox-owned WTTG Washington found itself part of the story after reporting early Thursday (July 2) that its sources had confirmed there had been a shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, site of a previous mass shooting and amidst heightened concerns about possible July 4-related terrorist attacks.

Ultimately there turned out to have been no gunshots fired, though a report from inside the complex that there may have been gunshots fired in the same building as the previous incident had triggered a massive police, and news media, response.

"FOX 5's Assignment Manager Doug Buchanan says multiple sources confirm that there was a shooting at the location just after 7:30 a.m.," the station had reported just after 7:30, according to the station, which followed Fox News' report that an employee inside the Navy Yard had reported alarms sounding.

Later the station's sources reported that there were two possible shooters, one black and one white, and one victim. Those sources turned out to be wrong.

The Washington Post Friday had an above-the-fold Style section story about how "news travels fast, but errors still faster."

But Fox News competitor CNN was not waiting for day-after second-guessing, sending out screen grabs of the station's reports and making the point that CNN had not misreported the incident.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.