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Posts Tagged ‘media’

“Getting the story out first” often means what you’re getting is improperly researched half-truths. Take the swine-flu for example: Every day the news stories I watched and read would contradict their own announcements the day before, the media built up its own hype until it got to the point that the only real news left was the fact that the media had over-hyped it all. Like no one saw that coming. In a culture where everyone seems to have a blog, “getting the news first” has become a near impossible goal for any internet outfit. And, dare I say, a less admired one: I’d rather hear the story an hour or so later than everyone else if it goes towards making sure that what I read is accurate (and well-written would be nice too!).

It seems to me that the long-term successful online blogs and publications are going to be the ones which have integrity and researchers – ones which employ people to do more than “type fast”. As Twitter and Plurk grow in popularity (though from what I’ve read recently the retainment rate is hardly stellar), news has become anyone’s game. People seem to spend more time reporting life than living it lately, so it’s not a pleasant trend to watch, and not one I’m keen on joining in: Blogging is as far as I go on the “wow I just blew my nose” minute by minute reporting of existence.

It all reminds me of this extract from an item I referenced a while back, called Why Facebook is Just Plain Wrong: “Devaluing friendship aside, Facebook also encourages an unhealthy culture of voyeurism and laziness. Sitting in a restaurant recently I overheard a table of Gen Y’s talking about what a great night they were having. Several chirped up to say “we should like totally Facebook this!”. Thankfully sanity prevailed as one sensible soul said “how about we experience it for real?”.”

Social critique aside, it is happening, and is effecting people who report news for a living. I can hear you complaining that surely it’s not effecting the professional news outfits, I must be extrapolating too much from comparing the quality and depth of research of your everyday blogger to professional news outfits… Hmm, how about you go read this first. It’s about how one guy used Wikipedia to fool some major news agencies, and he didn’t have to try particularly hard either. My husband has been telling his students off for using Wikipedia to do their university research for a good few years now, I’ve told him to use that story as a warning about the importance of proper sourcing. Maybe the journalists need to go back to journalism school for a refresher course too.

So this is where we end up: Magazines and newspapers have been struggling to compete with a world of news-now online media. But they shouldn’t be trying to; they should be finding their own niche in reporting with fully researched facts, with integrity, and with talented writers. In a way that sets them apart from us everyday bloggers. Similarly though, online news outfits who do it for a living are going to have to think beyond the “we got there first” mentality. Sure you need to be speedy with your news, but if it takes a little longer to get it out because you had to talk directly to the effected parties first hand, or had to confirm your sources, and (gasp) check your spelling, then isn’t it worth the delay? It’s also very important to know whether what you’re saying is fact, or opinion. Because claiming opinion to be fact not only makes you look unreliable, it also exposes you to defamation suits. And those aren’t fun, for anyone involved.

Like I said in a previous post, in a world where it is becoming easier to contact famous people who do famous stuff – especially in our own field of Second Life where we’re all just an IM or notecard away – there are fewer reasons for bad reporting, and resorting to the “he-said, she-said” that still seems so popular. If people won’t look into matters themselves though, or at least be willing to admit that they haven’t done their research, it leaves it up to us the readers to point out that we expect more. At the very least, it is up to us not to perpetuate the short-comings of others by piling on our own opinions of things that never actually happened (or happened in such a different way than reported, that it as good as never happened). There will always be a market for that tabloid style of reporting, but it’s not one I’m interested in. And I only hope those who insist on following it, know what they’re encouraging and how foolish and nasty it will make them look when they treat what those outfits say as if it was truth.

Life’s too short to read crap.

Hopefully, incidents like the Wikipedia one I linked to above, will sink into public knowledge. And we all get a little wiser for it.

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I just finished watching a national TV item that was talking to some of my country’s top bloggers, about our election on Saturday. At one point there was a roving reporter’s piece asking people off the street whether blogs influenced their decision of who to vote for, and it was 10 for 10 that no it didn’t. The presenter then asked these eminent bloggers how they felt about that. And their answers intrigued me.

Each of the bloggers agreed that it’s not the average Joe being influenced by their blogs – that it was the media who read their blogs who then wrote pieces in other publications that reached wider audiences, who really had that ground-level impact. That it wasn’t about the number of people who read it, but about what those people did and who those people are.

The same seems largely true to me about our SL blogs: The people who read and comment on them are usually other SL bloggers and SL residents who run their own SL publications.

There were two further related comments though which really got me thinking. One was that the best blogs are the ones who do the research, find original facts and report them – facts that other media sources then at times choose to pick up; that the not-so-good blogs are those that exclusively feed off existing news in other media to fuel their discussions. The second point was that a good blog is one which can say things we already know, but in insightful ways that ring true and help us understand what we may have struggled to express beforehand.

Being relatively new to blogging I openly admit that I have a lot to learn. To me the above statements about what makes a good blog and the reader base of blogs appeared to reveal truths that I’m going to take to heart. Though this is not a political blog, the fundamentals of what would make it appealing, and what might otherwise make it like any other run-of-the-mill blog, look to be the same.

I’d be interested as always to hear what you think about it too. What makes a good blog in your view, and are these statements I’ve presented above true or insightful..?

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