Are News Organizations Moving Too Fast?

An opinion piece on the Nieman Journalism Lab website poses this question: Are the media being too hasty to deliver scoops and breaking news via social media? It’s an interesting take on real time and one that I haven’t thought of before. The news media is built to deliver critical information to people as it happens – reporters doing standups at fires, a live press conference, etc. Social media speeds up that flow even more, allowing reporters to tweet out tidbits of news before they even get the chance to write an article or do a TV segment.

In the piece, Amanda Zamora writes:

We turn to social media during news events for immediate updates and eyewitness accounts, constantly refreshing and trolling for every possible bit of news and commentary. There isn’t a major event (earthquakeelectionbin Laden raid) that we can’t visualize through social trends.

But in our fixation on immediacy, we’re missing opportunities to tell a larger story through social means. At times, we’re even perpetrating rumor for the sake of “real-time” coverage (see: Newtown shootings social media disaster). In both cases, we’re letting readers down.

How do media organizations weigh the benefits of delivering news in real time with the need to reflect? In the words of Zamora, “I challenge news organizations to think about how a ‘slow’ social media movement could better serve our journalism and our readers in 2013.”

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