For better or for worse, we are in an age where the most important factor for most news companies is speed. News stories cannot be both instantaneous and comprehensive. The terms are mutually exclusive. When writing an article within minutes or even seconds of an event, no reporting can provide comprehensive details. Without those details, mistakes are bound to happen.
Several times, I have gotten panicked texts from my kids about a terrorist attack. Because even before the mainstream media (or even the non-mainstream media) get a chance to publish a story, people are WhatsApping, Facebooking, Tweeting, and using the devices at their fingertips to instantly share whatever rumors they come across.
Once a story has broken in social media, the media have no choice but to quickly publish whatever information they have. If they act responsibly and wait until all the details are confirmed, it won’t make a difference because people looking for news will keep moving from one site to another until they find…something.
Even as someone who has spent over a decade analyzing news coverage of Israel, I am not immune. I get the texts from the kids, and I hit Times of Israel to see what they have. If they don’t have the story, I can go to Jpost, Ynet, Israel National News, or dozens of other sites. I will keep surfing until I find something, somewhere.
It’s crazy because I know that almost all first reports turn out to be wrong. So can I really blame the media when all they are doing is feeding my insatiable appetite for instant news?
Read the whole article on the Times of Israel.