Anyone trying to follow the news this morning about the Supreme Court upholding the Affordable Care Act was in for a chaotic experience. Modern breaking news coverage is insane and disjointed. What do you make of it?
Anyone trying to follow the news this morning about the Supreme Court upholding the Affordable Care Act was in for a chaotic experience. It didn’t matter if you were following along on Twitter, reading a live blog or watching TV; there were false starts wherever you looked.
The Associated Press got it right early on with a declaration at 10:08 that the individual mandate had been upheld. But then CNN almost simultaneously contradicted it, plunging the Twittersphere into chaos.
SCOTUSblog, an authority on all things Supreme Court (and possibly moreso after record traffic today) tweeted in agreement with AP, but confusion continued to reign over everyone expecting an immediate grasp of a fairly complex legal decision.
Modern breaking news coverage is insane and disjointed. What do you make of it? Is it worth following breaking news, or should we always expect to wait about 20 minutes for the Twitter firestorm to die down?
The AP moved its first story on Twitter at 10:13, but Fox Newsradio continued to get the story wrong, stating at 10:19 that the individual mandate would stand, but the medicaid expansion would fail. And at this time there were still conflicting tweets about the number of votes: was it 5-4 or 6-3?
Rather than jumping on the wagon, NewsWorks posted only that there was still some confusion, and we were working on getting the right story.
A minute later Fox Newsradio reported that SCOTUS had indeed upheld the health care law. But CNN didn’t correct itself until 10:21. At about that time, the Twitterverse seemed to right itself, and everyone started getting the story right.
Meanwhile SCOTUSblog kept chugging away, an oasis of calm in an otherwise chaotic, overwhelming stream of misinformation and overreaction.
Bear in mind, CNN had the story wrong for about 13 minutes. Just 13 minutes! Fox Newsradio had it wrong for even less time because they ran with their story later. But a LOT can happen on Twitter in a short time.
Who’s surprised, really? All Twitter is is the new “word of mouth.” If not for social media, we’d be spreading the wrong news some other way. Eventually the truth comes out. The only difference now is that false starts don’t stay in the safety of the newsroom anymore. It might be nice if they did.
Twitter as a whole is no more authoritative as a news source than your neighbor or the bus driver. Social media can elevate yahoos to the same status as trusted news sources. It can also reduce trusted sources to yahoo status.
It’s best just to wait for confirmation instead of trying to beat your friends with the first tweet or Facebook post. Try as you might, you won’t be first. So you may as well be correct.