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Today’s St. Louis earthquake showed me why news is being shaken-up 4/18/08

Posted by Steve Boriss in Old media.

Just after 4:30 a.m. today, the unmistakable signs of an earthquake moved my wife and me within seconds from cuddling in our bed to huddling under a doorframe. After 30 seconds of violent shake, rattle, but thankfully not roll, we were back in our bed with the question, “where can I find out what just happened?” Instinctively, I ran for my PC, where I found info within minutes from a seismic center and additional stories as minutes passed. Instinctively, my less New-Media-addicted wife reached for the TV remote. Perhaps if it were 30 years ago, instinctively we might have run to the curb to see what the newspaper had to say.

It’s just one real-life example of how inferior Old Media really is for fresh, breaking events. TV can’t report the story until they have time to seek facts and package it all up in a TV production — and even then you have to catch the right channel at the right time to get the few facts that most of us are interested in. In the case of an earthquake, these are things like how strong it was, how close we were to the epicenter, and whether it caused loss of life or property. Who needs a reporter to verify the facts when an online seismic center or news service can deliver completely accurate info within minutes? Who needs human interest stories like the one we saw on local TV — and I’m not making this up — where a woman claimed it damaged a spring on her trampoline? In an earthquake, the principles of journalism are simply irrelevant, and the lag time required in Old Media renders their news useless. There is a major media shake-up underway, and it is all the Internet’s fault.


1. Sassenach - 4/19/08

Old media: TV “reporter,” limited to a specific geographic area, goes out and does the best she can — trampoline woman. The other news stations rush out to similarly interview trampoline woman so that viewers won’t think that the other news station has an edge. In each case, the trampoline footage is teased just before the break so that viewers have to sit through the commercials before finding out whether there was actually any serious damage. Viewers everywhere roll their eyes in disgust and leave the room.

New media: Trampoline woman takes her own video and posts it to YouTube, where it promptly gets ignored by everyone except by some friends and family. Meanwhile, three teenagers take their own footage of random minor damage and also post it, complete with music and snarky commentary. It gets Dugg/Farked and 500 people see it within an hour. A blogger picks up the video and incorporates it into a blog post that discusses the New Madrid fault and the comparative lack of preparedness in the Midwest as compared to California. The article also contains links to scientific reports about the New Madrid fault, earthquake preparedness sites — and reports from other bloggers who live close to affected areas.. or otherwise have something interesting and intelligent to say about the incident. Visitors to the blog get information, analysis, and entertainment; some like what they see and add the blog to their list on Bloglines.

One model is competitive; the other is collaborative.

Personally, I haven’t watched network news since 1996. I’ve watched cable news less and less; since the summer of 2006 I have gotten my news almost exclusively online.

2. Steve Boriss - 4/19/08

Sassenach, Wow! I hereby dub you Honorary Blogmaster of TheFutureOfNews.com.

3. Laurence Hallas - 4/19/08

We also had the earthquake in our ‘backyard’, but have to admit I reached for the remote. Here is what I learned:

Of the 4 St. Louis locals, 1 (FOX) broke into their feed to break the story in 7 minutes while NBC and CBS waited until the top of the hour for their normal newscast (20 min). WB waited until that evening and ABC? Well, I can’t even remember what channel they are.

My first thought was to check on my water/food supplies and move them near the car for the dash west away from our quake zone.

But I have to admit, the TV/internet was only an afterthought. I guess I figured if it was the real thing, both news sources would have not been accessible – no electricity!!

4. Talnik - 4/19/08

Wow. This is the first place I have heard of a St. Louis earthquake. I knew there was one centered near New Salem Illinois that was felt all over the midwest (I felt it in Chicago), but not a St. Louis earthquake. Unless you’re from the Old Media and just mis-reported it…

5. Steve Boriss - 4/19/08

Talnik, I did not mean to imply that the quake had its epicenter in St. Louis — just that we seemed to feel the full effects of a quake whose epicenter was in eastern Illinois, some 130 miles away.

6. Julie - 4/19/08

I don’t want to do my homework so badly that I find myself reading your blog.

7. st louis news | Hottags - 4/19/08

[…] Today’s St. Louis earthquake showed me why news is being shaken-upIn an earthquake, the principles of journalism are simply irrelevant, and the lag time required in Old Media renders their news useless. There is a major media shake-up underway, and it is all the Internet’s fault.The Future of News – http://thefutureofnews.com […]

8. Steve Boriss - 4/19/08

Julie, No problem. This is also a great place to get an education 😉
— The Future of News Dad.

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