Yesterday, CNN's citizen journalism site called iReport featured a story that Apple CEO Steve Jobs had a heart attack. Within minutes, Apple's stock had plunged, wiping out millions of dollars in shareholder value.
While people are pointing fingers at the problems with citizen journalism, I think what this really indicates is a problem with corporate PR. As soon as the story broke, someone should have called Steve up and said, "Steve, everyone thinks you had a heart attack, go post on the blog." Within about 30 seconds, he could have had a video posted on the Apple corporate blog saying, "Hey everyone... I'm ok, working hard as usual." I don't care where he was--you know he's never far from a Mac with a built-in webcam. Instead, the constant veil of secrecy around the guy makes it possible for a news forum where users have no ratings or ways to substaniate their claims can erase millions in market cap in minutes.