Will mainstream media always have it’s place?

Last night, I found myself at a ‘Tweetup‘. I missed the informal part of the evening due to being dragged for a run around Mt Victoria, but the speaker was Greer McDonald, who writes the blog Lady in the Red for a local media website Stuff.co.nz. I also found out that she’s the go-to-guy for using social media within the traditional mainstream media model for Stuff.co.nz… Which sounds like a pretty cool job.

She ran through some basics of asking permission to use Tweets and photos posted on line, the fine line between being an ‘authoritative and trustworthy’ news source and being the first to publish something, and how mainstream and social media interact and will in the future.

And this is where she got me. Her belief is that mainstream media will ALWAYS have a place. And because the rest of her talk was based around how mainstream media is basically trying to catchup/copy social media, it seemed that the one reason why mainstream media will always be vital (according to her) is that they have a set of ethics that ensures they will publish the truth.

Which is sort of interesting.

I know enough people who have had things published about them in the mainstream media that are either blatantly wrong or sensationalized to be pretty confident that most people do NOT trust mainstream media’s ‘ethics’. I think mainstream media is misguided in their beliefs about their role solely because most people (especially in NZ) still don’t know how social media works, and until they do, will still resort to mainstream media to ‘confirm’ what they hear elsewhere.

Those that DO understand the new news environment, in my experience, bypass mainstream media.

It also struck me, that blogs that have evolved into news sources with readership larger than many mainstream media companies, have done so because they understood completely that to be an authoritative source, they need to be fair, and very much leave themselves open to public criticism (which to me seems far more strong a motivation to uphold ethics than signing a document)… In my view these blogs are becoming the mainstream media, they are already operating in the new world in ways that mainstream media is struggling to understand and move towards…. All that will happen is that traditional newspapers will move online, and take advantage of their brand and readership by mimicking what others have done from scratch, and start fighting on a larger, more complicated battlefield for readers.

But I suppose that’s a moot point really, because it looks like the future of news is a lot more exciting than it’s past. A lot more people will be involved in gathering the info, and with that grunt work out of the way, those who have opinions on the bare facts and are brilliant at sharing them will thrive and open debate will be lively.

So basically, I think I’ll give Twitter another go :)

6 thoughts on “Will mainstream media always have it’s place?”

  1. Greer is lovely, but you are totally right.

    Any time I read a story that is about something I know about it is inevitably full of mistakes. Usually it’s not so much lies or deliberate spin as just simply not understanding the subject enough to know when they’ve misheard what someone said, or try to rephrase or explain something and make it wrong in the process.

    Of course no one can be an expert on everything, but you’d think that when they’ve already gone to the trouble to find an expert or witness and get information or quotes from them then they could run the finished story past them before publishing. Given email and cell phones (and smart phones!) that could well take less than an hour in most cases.

    But no, they’ve got deadlines to meet and it’s better to publish something stupid than to take the time.

  2. You can definitely see your enthusiasm in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren?¯t afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

  3. +1 to your comments.

    Been meaning to write for a few days this stuff and then you make it so I don’t have to :)

  4. Hey Natalie

    Thanks for the post and I’m glad you came along to SMC!
    I totally agree with you – newsgathering is getting really exciting what with the addition of so many eyeballs around the place, all contributing to so many sources.

    The most important thing for me is that we keep debating such things. Mainstream media is going through huge changes at the moment but it’s a great time to be a part of it all.


  5. While it is good to have the mainstream media there, I do fear that in the race to be the ‘first’ the MSM will compromise those ethics, and in fact they already have. Look at the Qantas A380 that turned back the other week. Unconfirmed reports on Twitter were immediately put into a breaking news as “Qantas Plane crashes” on the Herald website. What we are already seeing is a decrease in long form journalism and instead being replaced with shorter articles being raced out. While there is definitely a place for breaking news, it shouldn’t be at the expense of solid investigatory journalism. You only have to look at how much serious journalism is on the NZHerald and Stuff websites to see this. Its done well overseas, but here in NZ we seem to have it severely lacking.

  6. I completely agree. I’ve been having that debate a lot recently… It sort of takes you back to what is news? What is opinion? how do they fit together and who should do each part?

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