There's a wonderful OMG story available right now from Kashmir Hill at Above the Law. She gives us a great moment-by-moment breakdown of how a law professor's "joke" in class resulted in wild rumors that Chief Justice was resigning. The professor apparently wanted to make the point that you should check out what you hear -- duh. As Hill reconstructs it, somebody Tweeted or emailed it to somebody else, and the joke was out there, masquerading as fact, before the professor said he was just kidding.
The simple lesson, of course, is that online "publications" that should have known better, didn't. The scary thing is how quickly the unsourced and unchecked statements got out there. When you read her piece, you realize how many people were playing the digital version of "Telephone" -- I whisper to you and you whisper to her and she whispers to him and so on down the line. Pretty soon apple pie turns into lemon pie and a giggly time is had by all.
All kidding aside, this is the kind of thing that sullies a belief in journalism accuracy, even though the whole mess started in a law class. Kashmir used to work here and we're real proud of her. (Bob Meyers)