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Instant News, But At What Cost?

Media coverage of the latest news out of Boston and West, Texas has reminded me of the unfortunate circumstances we as a nation have reached. Never before has there been such a high level of information overload, and seeing the discrepancies across different news outlets makes me believe no one truly knows the truth as quickly as they claim to know it.

So called “live” feeds of the action on the ground in Boston as the 20-hour manhunt ensued weren’t truly live, as many news organizations went for the tape delay in case of severely violent images. This was a wise choice, but in effect created a delay in reporting. CNN and FOX News had huge differences in the timing and details of their reporting, and other online-only sources maintained the “ready, fire, aim” mentality that has gotten so many in trouble in this time of instant news feeds and simultaneous information sharing.

What does this say about our society? Are we truly so fixated on the “need to know” that we’re willing to believe anything that scrolls across the bottom of a television screen, or anything written in an online headline?

Twitter became a popular destination for news gathering as the Boston and West, Texas events unfolded, but even there the difference between a news report and an assumption can be blurry.

Some would say Twitter trumped any and all television stations, especially considering television reporters themselves worked to beat their own outlets, all in the name of getting the first “scoop.”

Is there a price to pay for this need to know? Will people instantly assume the facts they are fed are truly factual? Where is the line between opinion and thought? Some news outlets make the line almost impossible to distinguish.

With the ever-growing and ever-accelerating rate of information output, the Internet continues to marvel and amaze in terms of sharing facts and manipulating fiction. As online readers seek the correct words to learn from, the amount of uncertainty and distrust should only grow with it.

4 comments

  1. Overload and over-reporting while eliminating news they don’t want us to see. 20 hours of manhunt has turned into at least that many hours of coverage on several news sites. I bet I’ve seen 60 explosions displayed (too many repeats) even while not searching for them.
    Whether purposeful or not, over-reporting is working for the terrorists in striking Fear and Terror in our hearts.
    I would rather see an occasional update and summary on such incidents rather than hours o wasted time.

  2. based on the 1000s of comments I read on various online news channels – mainstream or not – it is quite apparent that a majority of people believe whatever they read and furthermore, are quick to give judgment. It is quite revealing and very scary to think what would happen if the masses were allowed to be shown something that is presented as factual and allow them to be judge, jury and executioner.
    It seems like we are overall regressing in our conscious awareness and being driven by our base animal instincts and emotions.

  3. The media saturation of such events only benefits the cause of those responsible and those who wish to PROTECT us from them. Yes this was a tragic event, but there are tragic events and senseless loss of life every day that for the most part goes unreported. The nonstop media coverage of the Boston bombing effectively turned a few bombs into thousands. Why help those who wish to terrorize us.

  4. As the events unfolded surrounding the Boston Marathon bombing, reporters from some of the networks speculated about who might have been responsible. IMHO, this is irresponsible journalism, indeed it is not journalism at all but a time filler guessing game while waiting for real news to be revealed. And it not only served no useful purpose, it distracted the public from being alert to all the possibilities.

    The networks that engaged in this mindless speculation have destroyed their credibility in my eyes. They have demonstrated a lack of trustworthiness in reporting.

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