Thursday, June 25, 2009

On MSM vs. Twitter

Michael Jackson is dead. Long live the Thriller.

That's not what this story is about, however. The more interesting thing is how this story, like so many these days, unfolded. I simultaneously heard about it on Twitter and heard Chuck P. on Internet radio station Indie 103.1 mention that he was reading it also.

Now let me say this about that. In the entire time that I've been on Twitter, I've seen many stories broken: earthquakes, the plane in the Hudson, the unrest in Iran. All reported on Twitter long before any traditional news outlets get ahold of them.

Having worked in newspapers, I understand this. The traditional pattern for a news organization is that you hear a rumor. You go check it out. You get at least two separate sources to confirm the news/rumor. Then you go with it. Not before.

However, let me just suggest that news organizations need to rethink this a bit. Not that they should run with unconfirmed reports, but let me go further into this Michael Jackson is dead story.

After reading it in multiple places on Twitter, including reports which said "I've talked to his tour promoters. They confirm the death." (which was good enough for me to believe it), the mainstream media (MSM) insisted on walking through their paces, dragging out what we on Twitter already knew.

Luckily, we had TMZ, who had initially broken the story, confirming it. Then the LA Times confirmed that he was in a coma, and then confirmed his death.

We end up with the bizarre reality of CNN "kinda" reporting his death. "The LA Times has confirmed, but CNN has not..." WTF?

CBS News confirms. Then ABC News confirms. Still CNN holds out. What are they waiting for? By this time, there are friends of the family, UCLA staff, city staff, all of whom are quoted on Twitter as having confirmed it. It really made CNN look laughable.

Sure, I understand. It's a big story. You don't wanna get it wrong.

But here's my other truth, as I told a friend of mine who was skeptical just hearing it from Twitter. There has not been ONE single thing that I've heard first on Twitter as fact, that didn't turn out to be so. Twitter is not a place for rumor-mongering, that I've seen. It is a network of people able to get news in ways that other people not right next to his hospital bed cannot. And should be respected as such.

1 comment:

  1. I learned a lot from this post - never worked in the news media world, so have no understanding of how stories get published. I am encouraged that you find Twitter both faster and as reliable a news source as more traditional channels!


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