Sinkhole coverage: a fact free-for-all?

maginfyingA Florida sinkhole that claimed a man’s life on Feb. 28  drew ubiquitous media coverage. It was a story too horrifying too pass up. The floor of a man’s home opened to swallow him whole, leaving only grief and shock behind. Everybody from The New Yorker to CNN covered it.

When so many publications, channels, and websites offer coverage of the same issue, it provides an ideal moment to compare their styles and, as I found in this case, their accuracy. For instance, how old is the victim? Unfortunately, I can’t answer that question and I’m not sure many of these media outlets could either:

“At roughly 10 feet deep, the second sinkhole is smaller than the one that appeared underneath the bedroom of 36-year-old Jeff Bush, presumed dead, who lived just three miles away in Brandon, Fla.” –UPI

“One week after a sinkhole opened in Seffner killing Jeffrey Bush, 37, his brother Jeremy is expressing gratitude and frustration.” –WPST Channel 10 News

“Jeremy Bush says his parents are ‘going through hell’ as they mourn 35-year-old Jeff Bush, who is presumed dead after he was swallowed up in the sinkhole. Crews called off their search for him Saturday.” –Daily News

“Authorities made the heartbreaking decision to stop the search for Bush, 36, after his odds of survival became abundantly clear.” –CNN

“A Florida sinkhole swallowed Jeff Bush, 37, while he was in his room on Thursday.” –USA Today

“Jeremy Bush, with his his 2-year-old daughter, Hannah, and her mother, Rachel, spent a sixth day at the scene at 240 Faithway Drive in Seffner, where his brohter, Jeffrey, 36, died in a catastrophic sinkhole Feb. 28.” –Brandon Patch

“A thirty-six-year-old man named Jeffrey Bush had been asleep there.” –The New Yorker

“In the midst of the scrum sat the friends and family of 37-year-old road worker Jeffrey S. Bush, sobbing, consoling each other, screaming at rescue workers, struggling to come to terms with the fact the rubble under the aqua home Bush lived in may be his final resting place.” –Tampa Bay Times

“The first sinkhole opened last Thursday night and engulfed Jeff Bush, 36, who was in his bedroom.” NBC News

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