All the news that’s fit to tweet

How did you hear about Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s death this past Thursday?

Was it via newspaper? Television? A friend? or did you see it on your twitter and/or facebook feed before anywhere else?

For myself, and for what I believe is an increasing amount of people, I came across this information via the latter of these options. According to an article on BBC News, Libyan social media users took to sites like Facebook and Twitter in the hundreds, shouting praise at such a symbolic event for the country, showing the final defeat of the old regime and the absolute victory of the rebels.

So are social media sites the new shouting post? Should we not say someone was so happy that they wanted to shout it off the rooftops and instead that they wanted to shout it off their twitter page in a succinct 140 characters?

Jokes aside, social media sites such as twitter and facebook are becoming the go-to places to inform anyone of anything that happens in one’s life, and the bigger the new the bigger the amount of people that will post about it.

It seems that the first impulse from Libyans was to inform the world of two things: 1. The fact that Gaddafi was dead and 2. Their personal feelings about the subject. Keep these two aspects in mind, please.

Another article by Esther Addley discussed how the gap between Gaddafi’s death and the world’s finding out about it was one of the fastest leaks of information in recent history, with a fairly gruesome photo of a dead Muammar Gaddafi forwarded around the web within 90 minutes.

What followed was a first-come first-serve lightning round of journalism, with the credit going to those who break the story fastest. For reporting of this nature, it does not matter whether the journalist belongs to a high profile news outlet or if they are simply operating independently, it’s a completely leveled playing field. Not exactly, because one of the key factors in disseminating information via social media is through a high number of subscribers or followers.

Yet back to the first updates from the Libyans who broke the story. This is where everyone’s information will lead back to no matter what as they were the ones who first reported the facts. Yet it wasn’t just facts that were posted, as tweeting Libyans reported the situation by express their glee at Gaddafi’s death. That right there, the fact that strong, bias-making emotions were tied to this reporting leaves us to a strong argument against renegade reporting:

Misinformation.

I can say whatever I want. You can say whatever you want. The New York Times…they can’t say whatever they want. If the original sources start to become unreliable, it brings caution to any information that has sprung from that source as well, even after it has been re-reported over five hundred times. Now something as concrete as a death shouldn’t really be scrutinized for having bias as someone is dead or they are not. But even that isn’t always true.

Reports via twitter lack the oversight necessary to produce not just quality journalism, but true journalism. It is for this cause that people still read newspapers such as the new york times, because they generally respect the writing.

This is all just another example of lightning reporting versus slow and steady reporting, with both claiming equally important merits.

Who needs high-end media?

It’s more than a decade into what one could call “the digital age”, but what do we have to show for it? Well, we have the internet, that’s for sure. While I could go on and on about what the internet has done for society (both good and bad, fabulous and horrible), I’m going to keep this post on the subject of how it has affected news.

According to a recent study by the all-seeing eye of market research known as the Nielsen group, Americans don’t spend much time on the internet reading the news…at all. In fact, only 2.6 percent of one’s daily internet use is spent on news, with social-networks/blogs and “other” taking the bulk of activity. And it’s true, big-name newspapers seem to be under constant foreclosures and employee-cuts.

There are some other pretty cool findings from this study (which can be found here), such as the rapid increase in American smart-phone use as opposed to these big, clunky computers we use (joke). Oh, and then there’s tumblr, which the report says is a site which we should all have our eye on. It’s got 8 times as much views as wordpress, making me feel outdated in the middle of this post.

Though you do have to remember that this is the A.C. Nielsen company, and their research methods have never been very accurate. This brings me to my point. It’s all about how Nielsen “News” means a news site, like nytimes or WSJ or Fox News etc. etc. etc. The top spot (other than the “other” category) belongs to Social Networking and Blogs. Therefore, this could mean that audiences are simply getting their news from blog posts such as the one you’re reading (Side-note: I feel uncomfortably meta writing this post right now).

And now for something completely different:

This circumstance is not just occurring within the news, but with many other areas of culture. In an article on AdWeek, John Ortved discusses how digital and social media centric stores are seriously hampering on the luxury brand’s style. It doesn’t hurt that he uses Kreayshawn, an upcoming rapper who took the blogosphere by storm, as an allegory for how this has happened:

High-end fashion brands have a problem…after the young Bay Area rapper made famous by the Internet and her hit song…Sample lyrics: “Gucci, Gucci, Louis, Louis, Fendi, Fendi, Prada…the basic bitches wear that shit so I don’t even bother.”

It may have taken a rapper to say it best, but the message has been clear for a while: Luxury designers are losing their cachet. And the problem is only being intensified by the medium that made Kreayshawn a star.

To sum this up: Now that we have access to everything, what’s the point in buying luxury fashion items anymore?

My question is: Now that we have access to everything, what’s the point in subscribing to major news outlets anymore?

Ortved notes that the problem luxury brands are facing is that potential shoppers do not see the point in paying for their style when they can get anything else at much cheaper price. Luxury used to stand for elite, better clothing; and with alternative styles growing due to digital outlets of all kinds, there’s no real need to pay for the luxury service anymore.

Replace luxury with nytimes and read that one back. See what I mean?

People read the nytimes for its journalistic integrity and educated opinions. The newspaper and others of its class are subscription based for the privilege of reading their articles. Yet people don’t like to pay for things, and when there’s a free alternative that may be just as good, why would they? That seems to be the trend that this most recent report by the Nielsen Group is describing.

In a world with thousands of journalists covering every aspect of the news, price doesn’t necessarily equal quality anymore, and for that reason there may no longer be a place for luxury journalism.