Does Technology Hurt News Coverage?

from the all-news,-all-the-time dept

A BBC article which seems to be preemptively apologizing for the fact that with the advent of videophones and laptops and other tools of “immediate” reporting, they’re getting worse at reporting and are likely to make some huge mistake. They basically suggest that such tools make life worse for journalists (as they try to be better for viewers) and leads to bad journalism and an increase in “speculation” as opposed to actual reporting. My guess is that most reporting has always been pretty bad and “speculative”, but at least they had some time to water it down, before it went out on the air.

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Comments on “Does Technology Hurt News Coverage?”

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1 Comment
Dale Gardner says:

It's not the tools, it's the tool user

The BBC strikes right at the heart of the issue in the last graf of the story:
“The challenge for broadcasters and content producers in the future will be to find a way of bringing immediacy and quality together.”
I’d argue it has always been so…as much as we’d like to be smug about how quickly we can get news disseminated with all our high tech toys, we’ve been able to do so for well over one-hundred years. An example – I’ve been reading about the construction of the transcontinental railroad here in the States – the completion of which was ‘broadcast’ live by linking telegraph wires to the final spike and the sledge hammer – as the two connected, the circuit would close and the signal would be dispatched to the world. So immediacy is not new – nor, it would seem, are screw-ups. History relates the official tasked with pounding in the final spike swung wide and missed – a helpful telegraph operator watching the scene stepped in and tapped his key to send out the word that the continent was now linked.

Telegraph led to wire services like AP and UPI with their ‘a deadline every minute’ ethic, along with media like radio that delivered immediacy by the bucket. A few years back, on the 50th anniversary of D-Day, the local NPR station replayed tapes of the live broadcasts relating first the initial unconfirmed reports that battle had been engaged, followed by official broadcasts and statements. It was riveting, even after 50 years. Even TV has risen to the occasion, with the assassination of Kennedy and more recently the Challenger disaster. In those cases, and others, skilled communicators used the tools at hand effectively and with good taste and judgement.
Jump forward to events such as the explosion of TWA 800 or the terrorist strikes of last September and you can see the same sorts of tools at use in hands considerably more clumsy. Watch pompous ass ‘talent’ like Brian Williams prattle along with inanity after inanity and you see what I mean.
It’s not the tools. It’s the people who use the tools. There will always be those who learn how to use them – and those who don’t.

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