Wednesday, April 16, 2008

All the News That’s Fit to Print … According to?

By Robbin Goodman, Makovsky + Company

The story didn’t make it to the mainstream media, but B.L. Ochman’s blog asks the right question: What constitutes news now that everyone is a reporter?

She cites how Tony Katz used Twitter — a social networking site that lets its users stay connected with colleagues, friends and family in real-time — to provide an eyewitness account, that unrolled a bit like the frames of a film, about how a man who claimed he had a detonator in his pocket was taken off a US Airways flight… while he, a passenger on the plane, sat observing.

You can read the details on BL’s and Tony’s blogs. The long and short of it is that the gentleman was quickly escorted off the plane without incident and the airline received glowing praise.

This gives new meaning to “If a tree falls in a forest….” Except for a handful of bloggers who reported it, at the time of this writing no mainstream media appeared to have picked up on it.

This fascinating account complements a recent study on the State of the News Media by Pew Research, which has done landmark work on the role of the Internet and social media in people’s lives. The study suggests that the trend toward user-created content for news appears more limited, including on “citizen” blogs.

The Pew study reported that the agenda of the traditional news media continues to narrow, not broaden, based on an audit of topics of coverage, according to the study. While it would appear that online news content could provide new opportunities to aggregate more sources, online platforms are limited by what the originating sources are providing. (In other words, citizens aren’t doing original reporting in the context of mainstream media [MSM] sites which focus on a narrow band of news. Although clearly some of them ARE reporting it elsewhere.) All the news that’s fit to print is clearly a function of who’s trying to report it.

But lest we be too critical of the MSM, Pew also reports that the (traditional) newsroom has seemed to adapt very well to the new media environment. The laggard in news operations now is the business side of the organization.

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