Sunday, 14 June 2009

Iran Media Coverage Fail


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Watching Sky News over the weekend just reinforced my growing irritation with ‘traditional’ media. There’s a big bust up over budget caps in Formula One racing and Ferrari, among others, is playing hardball with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone – a news item repeated constantly through the weekend. At no point did anyone explain what the bust up was actually about. The repetitive coverage of the same news file means we never drill down into the story and so I end up having to Google it to find out the answers to my obvious questions - the questions, incidentally, of journalism 101 - what, where, why, when, who, how?

Similarly, there’s no analysis of Mousavi’s role in the Iranian elections, no depth on offer at all, just a number of sound bites filmed with over-excited girls in hijab. And so I have to Google him, too, to get the background I feel I need to form my opinion.

By Saturday afternoon, I've given up watching repeats of Tim and Ashish and I’m getting my Iran election news from Twitter – a good selection of opinions, breaking news and links to better and more in-depth sources than Sky. I’ve not even got a Twitterfall going on it, that’s just the commentary from Tweeple. And the Iranians among them are sharing links to articles that reinforce and deepen my knowledge of the elections, widening my horizons and engaging my (I admit, unusually active) curiosity.

Amanda Knox is standing trial for the murder of Meredith Kercher. That one’s repeated again and again, but there’s no coverage of her actual testimony. Whatever happened to the boyfriend? Again, Sky ain’t telling. Googled.

So I'm getting my news analysis from search, from Twitter and from online news sources. And increasingly I'm getting my news from these sources, too. Because Sky, an important UK news provider, simply isn't giving me the news I want with the information, intelligence and drill-down I want.

Increasingly, I’m finding that my, and others’, curiosity is finding itself satisfied by online sources and not news media. Other people are asking the same questions and the answers are easier to find online through social sites, searching news sites, using RSS. I’m getting more depth of information, a broader reach of public opinion – both international and local to the event – and talking to people about stuff as it develops.

This morning there’s a new Twitter hashtag - #CNNfail – and it's a top 'trending topic' on Twitter, a reaction from thousands of people using Twitter who are learning more about the elections and subsequent riots there from Twitter than they are from CNN - which has been apparently failing completely to cover the entire process.

As traditional newspapers continue to struggle, many depending on newswires that consumers are perfectly able to read for themselves and unable to deliver the breadth of witness, comment and opinion available to us online, I do wonder how long it will be before we finish with this pointless journalism/bloggers debate and recognise that our news media is changing in a fast and fundamental shift that will wipe out many of the less agile players.



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10 comments:

the real nick said...

Fail, of Sky News maybe.

I watched extensive coverage of Iran's elections on CNN and BBC World with Christiane Amanpour and JOhn Simpson respectively, as well as a clip of Amanda Knox' testimony at the trial, again on BBC.

alexander... said...

Well, CNN's coverage has generated this:

http://twitter.com/#cnnfail

I didn't watch CNN or BBC, but wouldn't mind betting what was on offer was little more, if anything, than Sky's coverage...

Rootless said...

Has it not occurred to you that perhaps assessing the media coverage of the Iran election and other current stories from watching Sky News (Sky News!!!!!- the sibling of, um, Fox News) is the equivalent of tracking Dubai's decline from, oh, I don't know, the window of an aeroplane??? I was glued to this all weekend - TV, radio and internet. I'll take the bet you wouldn't mind making, anytime. BBC (radio and TV), CNN and Al Jazeera all offered a constantly updated array of interesting (occasionally infuriating) analysis and testimony from different sources of often wildly varying credibility. BBC World Service were the first to point out, for example, the implausibility of Ahemedinejad polling over 60% among the ethnic Azeri's of Mousavi's home province. From my observations, broadcast media were invariably hours ahead and miles deeper than internet reports. (Sky News!!!!!). SMS messaging was blocked in Iran so Twitter was, well, twatted I guess. But then again, I just wanted to find out what was happening, not validate some theory of new media... (Sky News!!!!!!)

Valencio Cardoso said...

You're quite right. With the advent of Twitter and social media, news gets back to us in real-time - faster than most of the news corporations. This allows us to formulate our own opinions based on relevant tweets. It isn't so much as a CNN or Sky News fail, as it is social media giving us the ability to access 'real' news as opposed to a one sided bias.

who is said...

Excellent point and +1 or forgetting the 5Ws...

and apparently you're not the only one pointing this out (which I'm pointing out only to lend more substance to yoru article):

http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/dear_cnn_please_check_twitter_for_news_about_iran.php

If traditional media continues on a downward spiral towards low fi, low quality content they're only digging their own graves; without the extra veneer and credibility of "quality journalism" to elevate (or differentiate) themselves over new media (as much as I hate drippong that cliche) - what other value add do they have to lay down as a trump card over the hordes of blogs and twitterers out there straining at the leash I wonder?

And that's before we even get into Fox news and teh issue of institutional bias etc.

Meanwhile, the up-to-the-second nature of the internet vis a vis news coverage continues to amaze...

who is said...

As an aside, people might find this article on the subject of the Iranian election to be interesting (as far as explaining the current discontent):

http://www.juancole.com/2009/06/stealing-iranian-election.html

Jad Aoun said...

I'm an avid viewer of CNN and they are pushing viewers away from the television sets. You cant go for 30 minutes without reminders to join the Anchor on their Twitter, Facebook, Blog, and then there's the iReport series.
Conventional news media is dying and CNN seems to have already given up.

Brn said...

I'm actually stunned that anyone has payed any attention to CNN ever since they admitted that they deliberately misreported the situation in Iraq while Saddam Hussein was in charge (http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/11/opinion/11JORD.html).

bowler said...

on a positive note at least it's awesome that Twitter and other online social media outlets do so much to level the information playing field

Dubai Jazz said...

"BBC World Service were the first to point out...."

Sounds like that's not always the case; from the Huffington Post:

//8:23 AM ET -- Live fire authorized? "The BBC's Jon Leyne, in Tehran, says he understands plain-clothed militias have been authorised to use live ammunition for the first time." Rumors about live-fire authorization have been on Twitter for hours but this is the first I've seen of it in a major news report.//

See? twitter was hours ahead of MSM.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/13/iran-demonstrations-viole_n_215189.html

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