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Where to turn for "breaking news"?

Sadly, it takes a local tragedy to drive me back to blogging... but I'm carrying on a conversation over Twitter right now and 140 characters just ain't cutting it.

Full disclosure: Dad taught Journalism for 32 years so I have that running in my veins, still know lots of folks in the field. But I'm much more "techie geek" and "social media proponent" than I am "journalist" at heart, so I think the family/personal background makes me balanced rather than biased.

That having been said... I'm having a good-natured debate with folks over... well, what Jon Gordon described on Twitter as "bloggers' etc. response to 35W bridge collapse for Future Tense".

So, first of all, to clarify, "blog" does not equal "citizen journalism". I'm thinking of "blog" as the delivery medium and "citizen journalism" as the source.

And given that... I think that "citizen journalism" is useful and good for breaking news situations like this one... but I also think that blogs are a lousy medium for delivering that jounalism.

In other words, we really need to broker breaking news through the "main stream media".

Now that the news is no longer "breaking", we'll see more use of social tools to point people to interesting stories, supplementary information, etc...

But when a bridge falls down in Minneapolis, I'm not going to fire up Chuck Olsen's blog to find out what happened. It's time for WCCO, KSTP, KMSP or KARE -- all of which had choppers in the air and reporters on the ground within a few minutes. Those choppers showed me the scene, and the reporters on the ground "got the story" from people who were actually there.

Could blogs provide a "personal connection" to the situation? Yes... but only for the people you already know. I hopped on Twitter, told everyone that I of course was all right because I'm almost never near that bridge. Was glad to see that Garrick was alive and well and Tweeting, sure. But that's not where the "news" was at.

Here's an example of my "social media" experience with this particular news. I figured that someone would have cell phone or security camera footage of the collapse. So I popped on YouTube and did a search. Someone claimed to have just what I was looking for. What was it? Archival footage of the Tacoma Narrows bridge collapse from 1940. Because you can't block files on YouTube as SPAM (just comments, as far as I can tell), there was no way to warn away the rest of the planet from the bogus and inappropriate content other than rating it with just one out of five stars.

So, relying on the wide open world of social sites to provide your news is very unwise. Main stream media makes its mistakes (lots of them), but at least they don't intentionally polute the stream with garbage.

Now that the dust has settled (literally and figuratively), I think some of the best conversation about the related issues will be in blogs... but two nights ago, that's not where you wanted to be if you needed to know what the real story was.



At August 3, 2007 at 10:01 PM, Blogger Chuck Olsen said...

I somewhat agree -- live television was really the place to see what happened. I put up a YouTube video of KSTP's live footage, mainly for the benefit of nonlocals or those without immediate TV access to see what was going on.

But sites like MNspeak, Mpls Metroblogging, and the Minnesota Monitor became the best places to *aggregate* breaking information -- both mainstream media info and amazing firsthand account like Noah Kunin.


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