As I’m bouncing through a joyful day of writing on the admixture of traditional journalism ethics and new media practices and the disruption and reshaping of the controls over information flows, I took a *quick* little Facebook break that, led to a slightly longer detour to write this blog post because, after all, when writing about social media, social media isn’t really a break.
Sometimes the world hands you too good an example to let slip, and I can’t resist a chance to highlight this crazy journalism world we’ve created for ourselves.
The first post on my Facebook feed was breaking news from CBC:
So I follow the link, and find this:
As you can see by the highlighted section, there really wasn’t any news. The Facebook post and the headline had, in fact, completely opposite meaning. When I refreshed my feed I saw this had been added:
And the update at the website:
The Boston Marathon bombing this week was a tragedy, made even more horrible by the evidence that suggests it was a deliberate attack. In a moment of shock and sadness, we want to follow new evidence as it emerges, to help make meanings and understand what, and why, such tragedies happen, seemingly out of nowhere. This news story, however, presents a clear example of how new media norms forged in social use of technologies that collapse time and space are reshaping the norms of traditional journalism.
Fears abound that news is getting sloppy. That stories are not being verified with the same stringent practices they once were. On the contrary, I would argue that the principles of verification are working perfectly in this instance, perhaps even more quickly than they would have using traditional means. The only difference, is that they are working before our eyes. Demystification can lead to disenchantment, but that doesn’t mean that the practices ensuring a level of truth to news stories are less effective, bankrupt, or forgotten.
My encounter with the changing face of this story relied on me being at the right ‘place’ at the right time, since the entire transition happened within 45 minutes. One of the changes in the norms of professional news means that news can be iterative, and the story is never final. For those of us who confront claims to objectivity and objective knowledge, this change my be a comforting one.