At around 5:30 PM yesterday, I noticed news of Michael Jackson’s cardiac arrest on Twitter and Facebook. At around 6 PM, some people claimed that he had died. What?! I performed a Google search to find an update. The website that had first reported his death, celebrity gossip site TMZ, was so heavily trafficked that I couldn’t access it.
Twitter member @TravelingAnna wrote, “Michael Jackson broke the Internet. everything is down.”
CNN and NY Times wouldn’t confirm his death until almost a half hour later. I kept wondering what would happen if TMZ was wrong; many people trust this AOL-owned website, despite the its typically-”fluffy” subject matter.
(Pictured at left: Breaking news!, by emutree)
Twitter member @BethanyShondark wrote, “They (TMZ) have people in every LA hospital on their payrolls. I didn’t doubt it when they broke it first.”
My Facebook and Twitter friends believed the news of Jackson’s death before the major news networks released official word. Do we have social media and the Internet to thank for the speedy and very viral spread of news? Who can we trust to report the news?
Honestly, I didn’t believe it until the LA Times confirmed it. I refuse to believe TMZ, Twitter, and Facebook. What does that say about me? Am I the only one who believes that big media venues like CNN and MSNBC know everything?
My brother directed me to this article from The Onion in 2005: “During a search for evidence at the Neverland Valley Ranch, investigators discovered a corpse that has been identified as that of Michael Jackson, Santa Barbara police officials announced Tuesday.” Sure, most people understand that The Onion is not a real news source. But who is to say that what is printed is or isn’t true?
Will there come a time when hearsay is news? Will we ever lose respect for the serious reporting done by the major news networks and publications? Will we jump the gun just because we want to be the first ones to know the truth? And how will we know what is the truth?
(Pictured at right: The gossip bench, by ercwttmn)
Will there be a day when we’re not waiting for CNN to confirm that something is true before we believe it’s true, even though we heard it first?
I found a great quote by Lord Northcliffe via Daringfireball.net about the relevation of news: “News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising.” If this is true and if it is so hard to get the “news”, then we will always question the validity and truth of the sources.
If we’re trying to get to the bottom of something, some facts will always be missing. Does that mean we should put more trust in the efforts that everyone makes to get that news or in the belief that eventually someone (CNN, FoxNews, MSNBC) will get to the bottom of it?