What Happens when Social and Traditional Media Worlds Collide

The Boston Marathon incident and aftermath vividly showed the interplay that can happen between social
6a00d8341c074953ef01127964484c28a4-800wi and traditional media, and what happens when these worlds collide.

We saw a frenetic manhunt that pitted citizen sleuths vs. journalists and made the latter look slow; and media misfires that gummed up the works for everyone from law enforcement to Wall Street (in the case of the hacked Twitter AP account, which led to fake news and tumbling stocks). A number of articles called Twitter "the new CNN."

While this was not the first high profile news event of the social media age, it seems to have been a watershed.  The NY Times wrote:

It is America’s first fully interactive national tragedy of the social media age..The Boston Marathon
bombings quickly turned into an Internet mystery that sent a horde of
amateur sleuths surging onto the Web in a search for clues to the
suspects’ identity… 

Just when that we have gotten used to the relative roles of traditional vs. online media, the new rules no longer seem to apply. Times columnists Nick Bilton questioned the wisdom of crowds, and David Carr pointed out how the incident tarnished CNN, the bastion of 24-hour breaking news.

Maureen Dowd wrote a piece about how everything is, basically, getting shot to Hell

Everybody is continuously connected to everybody else on Twitter, on
Facebook, on Instagram, on Reddit, e-mailing, texting, faster and
faster, with the flood of information jeopardizing meaning. Everybody’s
talking at once in a hypnotic, hyper din: the cocktail party from hell…

 the Boston Marathon bombings exposed a new phase in our experience of what
David Foster Wallace called Total Noise: “the tsunami of available fact,
context, and perspective.”

The unfolding terror,,,, “found the
ecosystem of information in a strange and unstable state… If there ever was a dividing line between cyberspace and what we used to call
‘the real world,’ it vanished last week.” 

Dowd's column made me think of a topic I covered recently, when I spoke with authour Douglass Rushkoff about his new book Present Shock (see the this post, which features the interview).

So, what does this all mean abiout the state and future of news?  How should companies and their brands respond? I spoke with Douglas Rushkoff again recently to get his thoughts, and will be posting the interview soon.

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