The News at Internet Speed

Filed as Features, News on June 23, 2008 5:27 am

I often tell my friends that I quit subscribing to newspapers nearly a decade ago as free news made its way onto the internet. Nando News, a website long since merged with the deadpool, was my main source of my news fix. Today, it’s sites like MSNBC, The New York Times, or even my local < ahref="http://startribune.com">Minneapolis Star-Tribune. But there aren’t any newspapers showing up at my door.

There’s also about 4,000 blogs that make their way onto my newsreader each week.

So we shouldn’t be surprised when we learn that the death of NBC Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert was first reported on Wikipedia – nor should we be surprised to hear that NBC tried to squelch the online news as it prepared for its coverage of his death, according to this article in today’s New York Times.

And, it appears, the early breaking of the news was not without its own consequences:

Looking at the detailed records of editing changes recorded by Wikipedia, it quickly emerged that the changes came from Internet Broadcasting Services, a company in St. Paul, Minn., that provides Web services to a variety of companies, including local NBC TV stations.

An I.B.S. spokeswoman said on Friday that “a junior-level employee made updates to the Wikipedia page upon learning of Mr. Russert’s passing, thinking it was public record.” She added that the company had “taken the necessary measures with the employee and apologized to NBC.” NBC News said it was told the employee was fired.

In this, we see yet another example of the internet – specifically social media and news sites like Wikipedia, being able to move more quickly than the mainstream media. I’m just wondering when the mainstream media – for all of their resources and funding – will try and do the right thing (i.e. catchup) rather than aiming for consequences when they get beat – such as in this case.

Other coverage: Mathew Ingram, Alley Insider

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  1. By Slevi posted on June 23, 2008 at 10:22 am
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    With more and more of the newspapers going digital themselves the need for subscription to their papers drop even further. The only nice thing about the paper is that it’s more portable, so I still enjoy my free edition of Metro when I travel.

    But even that will greatly change as the demand for portable computing with wireless internet increases. Already you can see cell phones and notebooks more and more adapted for this with certain limitations, but especially 5 years from now I won’t be surprised to see a foldaway tablet pc which you can simply stuff into your pocked iPod sized and fold out into a 21x9cm display or so coming with all the demanded features for such a device.

    Both for on the road and at home digital news coverage nullifies the need for printed news completely.

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  2. By Nancy Nally posted on June 24, 2008 at 7:43 am
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    This employee should have been terminated. What he or she did was certainly a violation of their terms of employment to maintain confidentiality about their work.

    NBC wasn’t beaten on this story by an independent blogger who somehow found the information on their own. Someone who worked for them as a contractor and was presumably given the information in confidence because of their employment handed the story to the company’s competition!

    That person demonstrated that they could not be trusted with confidential company information and should have lost their job.

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