Gather ‘round, my little dreamlets. Grandpa's going to sing of the days before every baboon with a wireless connection could vomit up a website and call it news. In those long-forgotten times, human beings would staff publications—magazines and newspapers, chiefly. But as audience habits and advertising money wandered elsewhere, the floor fell out from beneath them. Reporters, editors and proofreaders lost jobs by the thousands.
Still thirsting for news, but still too damned cheap to actually pay for this lifeblood of democracy and modern living, their audience turned to the Internet, a shimmering playground of glue-eaters and snake-oil salesmen, to explain the world to them. My little pumpkins, for all the speed and wonder of the Web, too often it was where ignorance, cheapness and a general lack of regard for readers combined to form perfect storms of intellectual insult. Inside this great, automated nest of wires and glowing rectangles, news organizations could call themselves such without ever hiring anyone who gave the faintest rat's patoot about such bedrock publishing principles as context, accuracy, fairness.
In fact, they could run so-called journalism sites that plugged into a news feed (such as the Sports Network, it appears) and replicate, without scrutiny, very obvious, glaring cusses in headlines, and leave them up for good stretches after Twitter called them out, because they'd abdicated the simple task of proofreading, instead leaving everyone in America to laugh at them for publishing the word "shits" when they meant to say, "Giants try to go up 3-0 on Tigers, as World Series shifts to Detroit." It seems simple! But spell check doesn't give a shift whether that headline makes sense. It takes a human to notice that little missing letter makes all the f'ing difference.
That, young'uns, is what happens when you shit the responsibility of human communication onto bots, and when you shit the burden of proofreading onto precisely no one. Granted, they started this mess by shitting from well-edited publications to the seemingly free pubs they could get online. And maybe a single glaring error in a headline on multiple major news outlets isn't something to worry about, in a larger context of democracy and free media. But forgive me, y'all, if these moments suggest to your creaky old pappy how easily mistakes and false information spread these days, unchecked. If you think about it for a minute, it's enough make you squirm, or at least shit in your seat a little.