Social media, parasailing donkeys and the news crisis

Blogger John Klossner is skeptical that social networking sites -- cartoonist blogs included -- are ready to fill the gap left by mainstream media.

In the meantime, I'll go ride the subway to catch up on the news.

In the mid 1990s in Boston, a free daily newspaper, the Metro, appeared. Based on a successful European model, this was handed out at public transportation locations and through paper boxes. This model is now used at several cities in this country, and has become another viable media source. At first people were horrified by these "lite" publications. The Boston paper had little in-house-created content, relying instead on wire stories. And the articles were never longer than one paragraph, so Britney had as much front page space as Pakistan (or whatever the 90s version of Pakistan was. Not to mention the 90s version of Britney.)

One day I asked a friend who was a graduate student at the time (and may still be -- you never know with graduate students) why she would waste her time on a publication that didn't provide any depth to their coverage. She told me she used the paper as a guide. When she found a story that actually interested her she could go to one of the larger media outlets to find it in more detail. And since she read the free paper on the subway, she could peruse the day's stories quickly without having to wrestle with a broadsheet newspaper.

I was reminded of this while reading an fcw.com piece, via GovLoop, about Web 2.0 picking up coverage of major events when the mainstream media leaves the scene. In this case the story the writer was referring to was the Gulf oil spill. When the major news networks stopped coverage, which they all do when they move on to the next "hot" topic, does that mean the story has ended? Of course not, and the piece was pointing out Web 2.0's role in maintaining the public's attention and need for continued information.

(I would point out the irony of a Web 2.0-based piece talking about the importance of Web 2.0 outlets in the media: If I'm reading that piece, I'm already on board, folks. I'm starting to worry about the number of Web 2.0 pieces telling me how important Web 2.0 is.)

(I would also point out that, just because the mainstream media are there, the story might not be in the public's eye. Have you been looking at viewer/reader figures for the players formerly known as the mainstream media? Audience figures for most mainstream media have dropped in recent years. I don't have to tell you about newspaper readership. Network television news viewership? Down. Cable news viewership? Down. The silver lining here is that when the major media players move on from a story, less people lose coverage.)

Are social networks picking up the stories when the mainstream media leaves the scene? The Gulf Spill? Haiti? The ongoing monsoon and upcoming hurricane seasons that are sure to cause flooding and crises around the world? This situation has always existed -- sooner or later, the media leaves the scene. It's just that now there are more voices to fill the gaps. With many people paying attention to alternative information outlets the attentions of the mainstream media have become less and less important. I'm not overly concerned about the media turning their light off of major stories -- I know I can still follow those stories via the web, blogs, chat rooms, etc.

No, I worry about two tangential points. First, finding accurate information. Once again, I have no concerns about people who are taking the time to read an obscure blog by a cartoonist in a niche market publication keeping up on their news. You have already exhibited the motivation to go looking for information, even if I question your judgment. Your - and my - biggest worry is to find consistent and accurate information. (These two factors don't necessarily co-exist. I would vote for consistency: If I know a source is always wrong, I'd rather rely on their consistency than rely on a source that's a mixed bag, accuracy-wise.) Web 2.0 isn't exactly a guaranteed source of hard science, and with the addition of so many alternative information sources, accuracy becomes a concern.

Secondly -- and this is nothing new -- how do we viewers/readers first locate and identify important stories? With so many media and information sources, each of us becomes our own personal editorial board, creating front pages that feature the range between the Wikileaks story to Rupert Murdoch purchasing the parasailing Russian donkey. We each need our guides, like that free Boston weekly, to give us a briefing of the news possibilities.

And what about those for who the donkey story is the hard news? I recently discovered an online Cheez-its newsletter. Are there really people (who don't work for the Sunshine Corporation, that is) who check in for updates in the Cheez-it newsletter? I have no problem with legislation calling for the deportation of anyone who has the Cheez-it newsletter as their home page.

Pelicans on Facebook

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.