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NPR Editor calls Reporting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ Death ‘a serious and grave error’

In the first hour following the gunfire in an Tucson parking lot, there was much misinformation about condition of those wounded. Fox News, CNN and MSNBC had all reported that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had died. The TV networks got these first reports from — and therefore sourced — NPR. This morning, NPR News’s executive editor Dick Meyer apologized for the “serious and grave error.”

On behalf of NPR News, I apologize for this mistake to the family of Rep. Giffords, to the families of everyone affected by the shootings, to our listeners and to our readers.

Full statement from Meyer after the jump…

In the course of reporting on the tragic events in Tucson on Saturday, NPR broadcast erroneous information in our 2:01 p.m. Eastern newscast, saying that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona had been shot and killed. That information briefly appeared on NPR.org and was contained in an e-mail news alert sent to subscribers of that service. This was a serious and grave error. Thankfully, Rep. Giffords is alive today, though sadly other victims of the shootings are not. Corrections and properly updated reports were issued within minutes.

On behalf of NPR News, I apologize for this mistake to the family of Rep. Giffords, to the families of everyone affected by the shootings, to our listeners and to our readers.

The information we reported came from two different governmental sources, including a source in the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. Nonetheless, in a situation so chaotic and changing so swiftly, we should have been more cautious. There were, obviously, conflicting reports from authorities and other sources. The error we made was unintentional, an error of judgment in a fast-breaking situation. It was corrected immediately. But we deeply regret the error.

Already all of us at NPR News have been reminded of the challenges and professional responsibilities of reporting on fast-breaking news at a time and in an environment where information and misinformation move at light speed. We learn, we redouble our efforts and dedication and move forward with our best efforts for the millions who rely on us every day.

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