I’ll start by thanking Chris and Melissa Bugaj for re-energizing my enthusiasm for podcasts. I used to listen to lots of podcasts but, for some unknown reason, stopped. Maybe it was just media overload, or switching to iOS from Android. After participating in the recent VSTE webinar (scroll down to find the archive) on integrating audio in the classroom, I installed the Podcasts app on my phone and iPad and added a few podcasts to my library.
On of my previous favorites had been On The Media, a program sponsored by WNYC. Brooke Gladstone takes an engaging, reflective approach to the workings of the media, often interviewing journalists involved in the week’s news about how and why they did the things they did. Not surprisingly, this week Brooke focused on the Boston Marathon bombings and the somewhat shoddy performance of the media in their seeming willingness to abandon long established principles such as confirming stories with multiple sources in order to beat others to the story. They reported erroneous information rather than wait to make sure it was correct because if they got it right, they would be heroes and if they got it wrong, they could just blame fluidity of the situation. That excuse ignores the important role of the formal media in our live: we rely on them to get the story right before they tell it.
But, there seems to be a very fuzzy line these days between journalists and bloggers and tweeters with journalists being lured away from their role as the nation’s fact checkers. Reporters are monitoring police dispatchers and, according to On The Media, those dispatchers were actually monitoring Twitter and reporting on things they heard. It became a closed loop where no one was doing any fact checking at all.
And, of course, there were the fake twitter accounts from the bombers that immediately got reported as real messages.
The program is worth a listen and, I hope, will prompt discussion about the role we all play in the exchange of information. Meanwhile, Slate offers some good advice about what to do the next time there is a breaking story. I’m planning to finally read Proust.