This summer, there's been great controversy about a proposed mosque at Ground Zero in New York City.
But here's the thing: it's not a mosque at Ground Zero. Rather, it's an Islamic Center that includes a pool, community rooms, and offices. And the proposed site isn't Ground Zero. It is in Lower Manhattan, but it's two blocks away from where the World Trade Center once stood.
That didn't stop newspapers and other online media from calling it the "Ground Zero Mosque." And once those media sites were indexed by Google, it became that much more difficult to correct the record. According to Kelly McBride from the Poynter Institute:
That's because accurate or not, people are searching for the term "ground zero mosque." So if you want to reach people who are looking for information, you have to use that term. It's easy enough to do in a story meant to debunk the phrase. All you have to write is, "It's not a ground zero mosque." But, what about ongoing coverage? Must you keep using the inaccurate term? Sadly, the answer is yes, according to people familiar with SEO practices.
For more on this example, and to explore the role search engine optimization played, Nora talked to Kelly McBride. She teaches media ethics at the Poynter Institute, and she's been looking at the 'Ground Zero Mosque' example and what it means for online journalism. A shorter version of this interview will air on Spark 119, but you can hear the full, uncut interview if you download the MP3. [runs 12:03]
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