It wasn’t all that long ago that we got virtually all our news from a few mainstream sources. In most instances we even knew when we would get the news. Newspapers were delivered in the morning. The TV news came on at 6 p.m.
Now, with Twitter, Facebook and the like, news can be (and increasingly is) reported instantly. So what does that mean for its accuracy? Its longevity? Its value?
Mathew Ingram of GigaOM examines those questions in his thoughtful article “Twitter and the Incredible Shrinking News Cycle.”
He points out that, in today’s media landscape, “the value of a simple ‘scoop’ or breaking news report is declining rapidly — and that might just be a good thing.”
Because “the news is now happening all around us, and we are part of it,” the news cycle is being accelerated. Journalists now have only hours and in some case only minutes to report on a breaking story.
Increasingly, the process of verifying facts and analyzing events happens out in the open, instead of behind the scenes. In my opinion, a good deal of what gets published on Twitter and other social media sites seems to follow the “read, fire, aim” philosophy. Get it out there, and refine it later.
Still, in spite of those odds, many media outlets try to break the story, get the scoop. But “the half-life — and value — of a scoop continues to decline.” So, I ask, does it make sense to try to “beat” Twitter, especially when the tweeter might be directly involved in the news story?
Ingram suggests that: “instead, it might be worth more — particularly in the long term — to spend the time trying to confirm the reports that emerge through social media…or to push the story beyond the simple report that something has happened and figure out what it means or why it matters.”
Yes, having longer pieces, more thoughtful analysis would certainly fill a need in this scoop-crazy society. That’s what I long for. Context. Clarification. Big picture analysis. I want to know why something matters.
As Ingram says, “(t)hat kind of analysis and context has always been the most long-lasting aspect of journalism… .” I agree. I only wish more others did.