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.
Matt Craven is the former editor & publisher of The Blog Herald. Currently, Matt is the co-founder of Bryghtpath LLC, a consulting practice located in Woodbury, Minnesota. Matt's presently looking for new blogging gigs. Ping him at matt (at) bryghtpath dot com. You can follow him on Twitter.