Dewey defeats Cingular

Dewey defeats Cingular
: The top of my NY Times front page says this morning, in that font that intones credibility, “VODAFONE IS SEEN AS FAVORED BUYER OF AT&T WIRELESS.”

Only problem is, I’d heard on the radio a few hours before that Vodafone, in fact, had dropped out and Cingular won the bidding.

Oops. Well, stuff happens, right? Well, yes, except I do wonder why an editor chose to put this speculative story on top of the front page. The answer, I think: show-off journalism. The NY Times wanted to be first with the news, even if it was wrong. In most journalistic quarters, that’s seen as a macho virtue — beat the other guy; you can always correct it tomorrow.

But in this age of instant news, I wonder whether that needs to be reexamined. For instant news, available everywhere anytime, also exposes your mistakes instantly. Is it a better service to readers to guess what’s going to happen or to let them come online and find out what really happens when it happens?

Or on the other hand, do you have to compete even more fiercely with the Drudges that will also report speculation and rumor?