Talk & Squawk – Michael Jackson’s death dominates social media

Talk & Squawk – Michael Jackson’s death dominates social media

Published: Saturday, July 4, 2009 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 3, 2009 at 6:10 p.m.

Last week’s news of the death of pop icon Michael Jackson spread on social networking sites, blogs and gossip Web sites before any major news organization confirmed reports. That wasn’t surprising to me, since most credible news organizations are going to wait until they have word from an on-record or reliable source.

On my way to a meeting the evening of Jackson’s death, I received a news alert from CNN saying he had suffered cardiac arrest. When I arrived to my meeting, someone whispered they read on, a celebrity news Web site, that Jackson had died. I get e-mail alerts from most major news organizations, and nothing had been sent confirming that account. So I turned to Twitter, and the reports were rampant. Everyone was either stating or questioning Jackson’s death. Still, on major news Web sites, nothing.

The celebrity Web site TMZ might have been the reason many people started tweeting about his death. broke the story at 5:20 p.m., after reporting an hour earlier that Michael Jackson had suffered a heart attack. Then, Twitter went wild.

Then, came the other news organizations’ reports – CNN, Washington Post, New York Times, StarNewsOnline (I’ve got to throw that one in!).

So, what does this show? First, Twitter and social networking sites, blogs and celebrity gossip sites are great for spreading the word quickly, and they’ll often be the first to report some sort of news. But be cautious. Sometimes these reports haven’t been confirmed by a reliable source, which is why credible journalism still matters and is still important.

What if Michael Jackson hadn’t died? What if news organizations reported what people on TMZ and Twitter were saying without checking first? We’d be in big trouble and you wouldn’t trust us. So, while these sites are great for learning tips and maybe-truths, it’s still important – probably now more than ever – to trust your local and national news organizations, where there are journalists who are going to make sure a report is true and accurate before spreading the word.

– Shannan Bowen,

Source: Star News Online