Social Media Mimics Mainstream Media

Last night, Ashkan Karbasfrooshan posted an article on HipMojo about the state of blogs, technology blogs in particular. His article describes how rumors among the tech blogs can rapidly snowball and eventually become a pr disaster for smaller companies. Apparently, CNET ran a false story stating that YouTube would be launching an HD service. This story ultimately ended up being incorrect and the Google pr machine was able to quickly resolve the issue. Ashkan suggests that smaller companies would never be able to pull off such a quick response. I agree with Ashkan.

The real issue here is not the power of each organization’s PR team though. The issue that Ashkan believes is limited to social media in fact expands to traditional media. I’m sure most of you followed our previous presidential elections including the 2000 election during which Al Gore lost to George Bush. As I recall, Fox News reported that Bush had won Florida prior to being able to confirm it and suddenly all the other mainstream media began reporting the same thing. We all know how that story ends.

The real issue here is that many of us involved in new media/social media have a habit of typing up stories and hitting the publish button without considering what could result if the information turns out to be false. I admit that I have done this on a number of instances and it has resulted in false information being dissiminated. I have since learned my lesson and try to think twice before hitting the publish button. The real issue here is that the large blogs such as Techcrunch, GigaOm, CNET and others have become the leaders in the industry just as NBC, FOX and CBS have become the leaders in traditional media.

As such, anything that they report is considered fact. Techcrunch for one, frequently violates this trust by reporting rumors that end up being false. The blogs that were once small and have now become industry leaders have been forced to adjust and now have to think twice about hitting publish. Unfortunately they don’t always do that but they should. I don’t think this is a sad state of affairs though. What really needs to take place is some sort of new media journalist integrity standard. Why not reward those that accurately report information with a stamp of approval? Am I way off here?