When did fact checking become irrelevant?

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords being sworn in earlier this week

Greetings from a cybercafe in sunny Puerto Vallarta.  I have been following the attempted assasination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords with facination and alarm. From the first bulletins that were sent out, false unvarified information was all over the web and media– the villians were not bloggers or social networkers, they were the major media outlets.

NPR was one of the first to break the story of the shootings. Sadly they annouced  that the congresswoman was dead. Check this link for NPR`s News Editor Dick Meyer explaination.  Not only were some of the news agencies announcing the congresswomen`s death but also the death of a pastor at the Mountain Avenue  Church of Christ. Now, that individual has been identified as Dorwin Stoddard, a part time maintenace man for the church not the pastor. I can not imagine what the people of Tuscon experienced as the news organizations tried to scoop their colleagues.

My question is have journalists forgotten the basic rules of reporting?  And what ever happened to notifing the next of kin before publicly annoucing someone`s death? When did restrain in reporting undocumented facts leave the profession of Journalism?

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