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Knox verdict lost in translation

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With the world waiting with baited breath for the outcome of the Amanda Knox appeal in Perugia last night (3 October), the adrenaline got the better of a string of leading news organisations, who - in the race to deliver the first headline - got the verdict wrong.

As the judge began reading his ruling in court, confusion over the word "guilty" led Sky News, theDaily Mail, The Sun and The Guardian to mistakenly report that Knox had lost her appeal.

A live news ticker on Sky News read: "Breaking News: Amanda Knox loses appeal against conviction for murdering Meredith Kercher."

Over on the Daily Mail website, the headline ran: "Guilty: Amanda Knox looks stunned as appeal against murder conviction is rejected" with The Guardian's world news feed and The Sun's online front page following suit.

The confusion came from the fact that Knox was initially found guilty of slander, for falsely accusing bar owner Patrick Lumumba of murder - and sentenced to three years in jail (which she had already served). The judge then went onto say that Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito had been cleared of the main murder and sexual assault convictions.

Hearing the word guilty, the news organisations raced to report what they assumed was the overall verdict.

While most quickly retracted their mistakes, the Daily Mail came under fire for keeping the story up for almost half and hour and embellishing it with fictional detail.

It reported reactions from prosecutors who were said to be "delighted" with the verdict, although they apparently added that "it was sad two young people would be spending years in jail." The story was quickly picked up by a number of smaller sites, who also mis-reported the outcome.

Knox's trial has become a star attraction for the media over the past four years, with thousands of news organisations descending on Italy for last night's verdict.

Knox, who flies back to America today as a free woman, has already been besieged with lucrative offers to sell her story although her family have made a plea for privacy.

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