Earlier today, there was a run on shares of United Airlines’ parent company, UAL, following news that the company was filing for bankruptcy. Unfortunately, that news was six years old. Somehow it was republished over the weekend by a Tribune news company without the original dateline, and by the time trading was halted at 12:30pm today, the stock had dropped from $12.30 to $3. The newspapers are still trying to figure out what happened.
According to news aggregation site SmartBrief.com, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, a Tribune paper, was the first to run the old story about United. It was posted to its Web site at roughly 1 p.m. Sunday.
Sun-Sentinel Online Editor Joe Schwerdt pulled the story off his site shortly before noon this morning, in response to a call Tribune made to Sun-Sentinel editor Earl Maucker.
“I literally just got word a couple minutes ago that there was problem,” says Schwerdt. He says he did not know how the old story was posted as new and was unsure if any other Tribune papers ran it. He declined to discuss details about how his paper publishes stories on weekends.
As of the publish date of this post, shares were back up to $10.92, noticeably lower than where they were trading before the news mix-up. Oops.