These are the words of Mathew Ingram @mathewi), a Senior Reporter at GigaOm, referencing concerns that Twitter and other social media brings us false information when there is breaking news such as yesterday’s tragic shootings.
From Ingram’s post this afternoon:
One thing to remember is that the process of reporting news during a real-time event like a shooting has always been chaotic and riddled with inaccuracies: it’s the nature of the beast. In the case of a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy, the traditional methods of getting information from the area are frequently disrupted, which makes it even more difficult to determine what is accurate and what isn’t — and in the case of a shooting like Newtown, the amount of information available is extremely restricted, because police forces and other officials are reluctant to talk, and may not even have all of the relevant information themselves.
In the past, this chaotic process of journalistic sausage-making was kept mostly hidden from TV viewers and newspaper readers. Inside the newsrooms at these outlets, reporters and editors were frantically trying to collect information from wire services and other sources, verifying it and checking it as best they could, and then producing a report at some later point. The advent of 24-hour news shows like CNN removed part of the veil from this process, but social media has torn the veil away completely — now, real-time news reporting happens in full public view, and people like Andy Carvin of National Public Radio have actually made this approach their calling.
Yesterday, everyone was reporting inaccuracies (name of shooter, his mother teaching the kindergarten class, number of people killed, who was killed). CBS, CNN, Twitter. Everyone and everything.
Not only are we as non-professional journalists listening to the news coming in (Twitter), but we’re also involved in the actual reporting process. We’re taking pictures, we’re tweeting onsite, we’re even tweeting what we see and hear online from thousands of miles away.
The result is one, a constant news cycle for which there is never a break, and two, a lot of static, as opposed to a clear signal, with news coming in from hundreds or thousands of sources all at once.
The mainstream media thus feels the pressure to report quickly. They don’t want to be made irrelevant. The mainstream media is also be ‘progressing’ into the world where ‘information’ is shared while still determining it’s accuracy.
You can expect this type of news reporting, from citizens and mainstream media (a line between the two ever blurring), to only grow. We’re not going back. We have a First Amendment. We have an ever growing number of media from which to report and share.
As Ingram says, “…[T]his is just the way the news works now, and we had better get used to it.”