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CNN first reported Giffords dead, then pulled back.
CNN first reported Giffords dead, then pulled back.

Real breaking news is an ever-changing thing

We've heard the term "breaking news" overused by local and national outlets to cover something that's just plain news.

But the ongoing reports on cable news channels about the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords demonstrate the difficulties of providing accurate information as an event is happening.

A number of news services, NPR, Reuters and CNN among them, reported the death of Giffords in a shooting outside a Tucson grocery store this morning. As many as 18 people were reportedly hit in the shooting.

Then they started backing off after reports from a Tucson hospital that she was in surgery for a head wound.

As I write this, the congresswoman's fate is unclear and the story is still unfolding. The advice to follow in stories like this is simple: don't believe the first reports.

Although the instant news climate, with Twitter adding to its speed, this is nothing new, check out this video of ABC's coverage of the shooting of President Ronald Reagan 30 years ago as Frank Reynolds learns that the president had been shot, despite first reports that he was not wounded (about four minutes into this video):


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