Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Our news 1 Their news 0

Fascinating moment in news history last night. I was watching the BBC1 TV 10pm news (which was frustrating and angering me in equal parts - but that's another story).
While the various BBC Hughs interviewed each other and sat back smugly folding their arms, I was on facebook via mobile (got to pass the time some how...). Noticed a couple of status updates referring to the death of actor Heath Ledger.
Five minutes later one of the BBC Hughs broke into his 'two-way' with another (donchyer just hate journos interviewing themselves?) to reveal the 'breaking news' that Heath Ledger had been found dead.
Bear in mind that this is the BBC broadcasting live news as I watch it. And Facebook friends beat them via my mobile. Twitter was even faster (Dan Thornton tells me).
It seems that not only are people plus social tools providing more relevant news to each other than the big broadcasters can, they are also capable of producing 'news' of equal quality - certainly if you believe 'being first' in news is all!


  1. Who thinks that 'being first' in news is all? Isn't being accurate kind of important too? Otherwise you don't have news, you have gossip.

    I did hear this story through reddit before the BBC, but reddit also tells me regularly that Diebold rigged the New Hampshire primary and Ron Paul will be the next president of the USA. It's fast, but it's not news.

    If fact checking only delayed the BBC by five minutes compared to facebook (and as far as I can tell the death only became public at about 9.50pm), then I think they're doing pretty well.

  2. Steve, I don't think being first is all. But many a promo campaign or brand tagline does. I think relevance is all. Social groupings provide this more effectively. They also create the network of trust from which we all derive of versions of 'accuracy' or 'the truth'.

  3. Accuracy?

    I saw it on Twitter.

    Searched Google news and saw several reputable newspapers had reported on it.

    Then went to Wikipedia for updates in one place, and Facebook to chat about it.

    Having actually broken news online before the BBC, it's also possible to get stories online, and then fact check and update as things happen. It's no longer the norm to wait until every fact is certain (Obviously you need to be aware of the legal issues surrounding quick updates)


The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?