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.