“Obama Picks Clinton”: The Danger of Pre-Writing Web Stories

Pre-writing a story is something journalists have done for decades, whether it’s soon-to-occur obits or outcome-unknown elections. In the era of the Internet, though, accidentally publishing those preemptive pieces has become all too easy.

Case in point: The L.A. Times set live five different stories announcing Barack Obama’s VP pick Saturday — one for Hillary Clinton, one for Evan Bayh, one for Chet Edwards, one for Kathleen Sebelius, and then the right one for Joe Biden.

The Clinton post refers to the prospective duo as the “dream team,” as CNET News conveniently caught over the weekend. Suffice it to say, the errant articles didn’t stay up for more than a few hours.

Is it the “Dewey Defeats Truman” of the 21st century? It may not be as extreme a scenario, and its impact was certainly far less widespread — but the comparison does largely hold true.

Of course, this isn’t the first blunder of its kind we’ve seen in the Web world…and I’m sure it won’t be the last, either.