“Citizen journalism” apparently just failed its first significant test. A CNN iReport poster reported this morning that Steve Jobs had been rushed to the ER after a severe heart attack (story and screenshot below). Fortunately, it appears the story was false. We contacted an Apple spokeswoman, who categorically denied it.
CNN’s iReport kept the report up until at least 10:15 AM, about 20 minutes after we published Apple’s denial. The story has since been removed.
UPDATE: Here’s CNN’s official statement. CNN says it removed the story because the community brought the story to its attention. Importantly, CNN also refers to the content as “fraudulent,” which is much stronger than “inaccurate.” The SEC has already launched an investigation.
Steve Jobs was rushed to the ER just a few hours ago after suffering a major heart attack. I have an insider who tells me that paramedics were called after Steve claimed to be suffering from severe chest pains and shortness of breath. My source has opted to remain anonymous, but he is quite reliable. I haven’t seen anything about this anywhere else yet, and as of right now, I have no further information, so I thought this would be a good place to start. If anyone else has more information, please share it.
Immediately after reading the iReport story, we contacted Apple. Katie Cotton, Vice President of Worldwide Communications, replied quickly, saying “It is not true.”
Twitter is abuzz. (See the live Twitter feed, which we’ve embedded below). Apple’s stock also took a major hit before bouncing back:
We expect this will lead to an SEC investigation. The IP address of the iReport poster will be easily traceable, and we expect the SEC will want to interview him or her to see if the story was “placed.” (You don’t have to be George Soros to figure out how the stock would react to a story like this.)
It is significant that this report appeared on a site owned by CNN. CNN does not profess to be directly responsible for iReport, but its name is at the top of the site. It’s possible that reports like this will significantly damage CNN’s credibility, and we wouldn’t be surprised if this caused them to pull back from association with “citizen journalism.” As of 10:07 AM ET, 10 minutes after we published Apple’s denial, iReport was still “reporting” the story. By 10:20, the story had been removed and replaced with this:
The iReport story was posted by “johntw”. It appears that this may have been his/her first post. Now that the story has been removed, his/her profile looks like this:
Here’s CNN’s vision for iReport:
With this site, we want to share our passion about the news in a way that invites you — and everyone else — to share your passion about the news. At CNN we live for news. We love talking about it. And we know that there’s a whole lot more to it than what you see on TV or read on your favourite Web site. So we’ve launched an independent world where you, the iReport.com community, tell the stories we’re not used to seeing. And the most compelling, important, and urgent ones may get seen on CNN.
So head on over the homepage and jump in. Tell your story and see how it connects to someone on the other side of the world — and build a new kind of news site, one made from communities of shared interests, impassioned discussions and great storytelling.
And here is iReport’s original Jobs story, at the top of the front page: