From the Editor: Social Media's 'Threat' to Publishers
The whole situation gave me a reality check. I desperately hope that by the time this issue reaches you, they are back on U.S. soil.
With the media, including our own industry, focused on new technology and business models, and competition from social media, I'm afraid some basic truths are getting lost.
I don't travel to war zones or natural-disaster areas, but many in this industry do. They risk their lives to bring news to the world, and often get little recognition for it.
The story about news outlets being bested by a single tweet that broke the news of Osama bin Laden's death sent my brain reeling. As Adweek reported, "The person who will, deservedly, get credit for being the first to confirm the rumors that bin Laden had been killed is Keith Urbahn, the current chief of staff to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He broke the news with a single, simple tweet: 'So I'm told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn.'"
Urbahn gets credit for tweeting a few words. He "broke" the "news." But where did everyone go to get the real, full story? To their most trusted newspaper, magazine, or corresponding website, their favorite TV news or radio programs-reported on by journalists who risk their lives, who travel the world and publish in-depth reports while we're sleeping.
Maybe it hit me as strange because as this happened, Gillis, Foley and Brabo still were captive in Libyan prisons, all in the name of bringing us the story on the ground there. Others had been imprisoned, injured and killed.
In my eyes, they—and others like them—deserve the credit for what they do every day. This is why I don't see the massive threat that many believe Twitter and other social media poses to the media. Twitter is like a friend telling you what s/he heard. They may tell you first (and, yes, that's obviously a goal of news outlets—to break a story), so maybe that has changed. But then most people turn to the expert media for the real story. The ones with the facts and analysis. They turn to The Week, the Global Post, The Boston Globe. The ones whose writers travel to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Japan and Libya. To those who really deserve the credit and appreciation, whether they are first to tweet a story or not.