I only watched five minutes of the news this morning.
All it took is a roundabout grasp on tying in the Boston bombing suspects with Al-Queda and I was done.
I have watched TV news struggle a lot the last few months.
With Newtown, journalists repeated little snatches of information, leaving a lot of backpedaling only minutes later and people crying out conspiracy theories to a coverup of the actual situation.
With Dorner here in California, news outlets were hours ahead of themselves saying he had been captured, when in fact only sighted, and then took conferences from police agencies who were not in charge of the scene to get information, spreading rumors even farther and then backing off as the real news came out. They even repeatedly showed footage of the shootout looped over and over with the ‘live’ tag on th side, making it seem like the bullets flew forever.
And today I turned off the television again after hearing a news broadcast grasp at a chance the Boston bombing could be Al-Queda related, opening the door again for hatred against any muslim by the angry and vengeful ones who will want to fight back.
I was first a journalist before I became a blogger. At first it was hard spilling my guts out to the world, wanting to share information, have backed up sources, and always respecting fellow journalists.
Now, when I hear something is going down, I don’t turn on my local news or CNN, which has also lost their credibility with me.
I turn to Twitter.
As a reporter I used to watch it with interest, knowing that just because Twitter said stuff first doesn’t mean it’s correct.
Yesterday, I commented to someone who had an early article about how the first suspect was in custody saying I wouldn’t believe it until more news came out.
But to read it on Twitter, stated over and over by people following scanners and there nearby?
I am starting to believe social media gossip over the journalists.
Citizen journalists, as the public tends to be called when sharing information about a news event, are turning out to be better sources of information than the TV news.
Print is already ahead of the game, linking to tweets and live-blogging events, using detailed and concrete information in the actual print editions.
Television, however, is whipping their horse trying to catch up with the impossible strides of social media and is now losing credibility with every straw they grasp at and have to recant later. If they even do mention their error.
They interview anyone they can, turning information about a suspect into a gossip-fest based on neighbors, classmates and former coworkers.
People are being driven to social media now to find current information and it leaves a risk. People tweet out addresses, take pictures of officers, all in the names of sharing news events, getting the word out about what’s happening near them, and having a moment of fame.
Police are having to ask not to share information that could hinder operations, put officers at risk and endanger others.
I never considered paparazzi as a career option after college, even though it was still a good market at the time, because I couldn’t handle the reckless gathering of any information and letting it blow up for a few thousand dollars.
This is just what the television news is turning into – chasing down anything and letting it grow beyond control then finding out the real news, much later in the game. I applaud any news sources that stay conservative and wait for confirmation before releasing information, like my local agencies when Dorner was a 20-minute drive from my home.
And so, again, I will be leaving my news gathering to a few choice people on Facebook and the occasional search on twitter.
How do you gather information when a major news event is on? Which do you find most trustworthy?