Speculation bursts my journalism bubble

Posted on March 11, 2011

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The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (@AEJMC) tweeted a post today that I both agreed with, but was immediately disheartened by.

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng

Tim Carmody’s contributing post to the Nieman Journalism Lab talks about how we are in the age of the “speculation bubble.” He says that with Twitter and e-mail and really any Internet outlet that allows users to access and then share information has created an era where it is difficult to figure out real information from simply a swell of speculation.

This phenomenon covers anything from product reviews to the real news and this where my heart sank a little. To quote Carmody’s source Connie Loizos: “Journalists have lost control of the story.”

Now, before you get all huffy and shout “that’s blasphemy!” just think about it: Where did people used to get all of their news? The newspapers and nightly news programs! And now, instead of simply competing against one another our precious outlets have to compete with the Internet– and not just news sites on the Internet, but everyone on the Internet who has an opinion about something and knows how to type.

And I can attest to this personally. Last week Otterbein’s campus was on Red Alert because a student reported a sexual assault and the suspect was somewhere on campus. Well, they caught the guy and they brought them both in for questioning and the Tan & Cardinal reported on what we could. However, our Security department sent out an e-mail to the campus saying that the assault was false. Now, our city police department had yet to conclude their investigation, so our Security department really had no grounds for this e-mail, but nonetheless it killed our follow-up story that explained the police investigated and will be charging the student with falsification among other crimes.

And it didn’t stop at that one little e-mail. We are a weekly paper, so while I was talking to police and picking up reports to write this follow-up article for the next edition, talk on Facebook went wild! Even though we published the accurate news in our article, the real “news” factor of it was gone because of that giant speculation bubble that had formed.

The only proper form of combat again speculation bubbles is, of course, to enter into them yourself as a journalist with your publication. That way at least information will be distrubuted into the bubble with a legitamate hashtag attached to it. And this is already happening. I actually found out about the earthquake in Japan from @CNNLive‘s tweet on Twitter this morning. It’s time we hang up our print hats, friends, and gear up to burst speculation bubbles everywhere.

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Posted in: My thoughts