Last week, parts of the town close to the railway station were evacuated because a bomb with half a ton of explosives from the second world war had been found on a construction site and it had to be defused. Even after decades of not exploding that remains a dangerous effort and they removed almost ten thousand people from their homes at the time. We laughed about it because those defusing people seem to be rather good at what they do. It also inconvenienced people significantly as they started defusing around eleven at night (in part, I heard, because they also had to shut down railway traffic at the time and wanted to minimise the impact on long distance trains).
Then they found another bomb on the same construction site which was scheduled to be defused tonight in a similar procedure. Being two kilometres away from the site, we didn’t notice anything, but soon messages came in about the bomb having exploded. twitter was full of messages on the topic and it took an hour or so before news sites started pick the story up. Strangely people on twitter started mocking those news outlets because they didn’t ‘report’ within a few moments. How should they have anything worth reporting within minutes? But it seems that the people who post unfounded ‘news’ along with meaningless pictures quickly are the winners in this game. And, doing some twitter searches also suggests that the twitter service is full of creepy ‘retweeters’ who seem to have created some ‘business model’ out of regurgitating other people’s analphabetism. Like some undertaker seemingly ‘retweeting’ all messages about dead people – tastefully including the people of the bomb squad who died in the incident.
Nobody knows much yet, but it appears that the bomb exploded before they actually started defusing it, killing three of the staff who were preparing it. Hearing that, one appreciates a boring office job and likewise appreciates the effort going into defusing a bomb regardless of the inconvenience it causes.
How should they have anything worth reporting within minutes?
It’s common procedure to release a short “breaking news” notice just so people know that something noteworthy has happened and later on complement the report with details. That didn’t happen in this case, that’s why people were irritated.
To repeat the cynical remark on my blog: I guess three deaths just were’nt enough to qualify for a breaking news or lead story.
I still think that those ‘breaking news’ should be founded by facts. And rumors or twitter messages do not qualify as facts. All initial reports seemed to be twitter-based. I am totally happy with journalists not wanting to report on that kind of information.
Also, writing and editing a report takes time and, it may require people to actually go to the site of the event or get in touch with people there. Late in the evening. In a small town. It seems unreasonable to me that the twitterati expect this to be done within minutes. Certainly the people dealing with the explosion will have better things to do than answer press queries at that time. tagesthemen managed to create report (17 minutes in) within an hour. Which I think is quite quick. For their nachtmagazin (about 7:30 in) they even had a (useless) phone-in-‘reporter’ regurgitating the three factoids known on the phone.
Perhaps three deaths aren’t enough of a blood-toll for front-page news (although the yellow-press ‘news’ business seem to love the story this morning), but ultimately it’s not an important story. It’s tragic for the people involved and makes small-town talk this morning, yet nobody else is affected by it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not asking journalists to base their reports on tweets, but I think the Göttinger Tageblatt qualifies as a valid source and they had it on their liveticker at 21:41. I think it’s reasonable to expect some sort of notice on the other media within an hour.
I think the ‘livestream’ at GT was rather vague and contained plenty of twitter messages, making it unclear whether it’s to be taken seriously. They only ‘confirmed’ their earlier statements half an hour later with a 22:07 timestamp. The news were on tagesthemen half an hour after that. I’d say it couldn’t possibly have been in heute-journal which started around the same time the bomb exploded.
Half an hour is a short period of time. Hardly enough for people to establish what happened, let alone pass that on and publish it.
Ah, the Internet age, where the depths of journalism and its core trust-building foundations — content standards, ethical guidelines, fact-checking, and copy-editing — should be brushed aside in honor of people’s insatiable love for speed.
Received data seems to be invalid. The wanted file does probably not exist or the guys at last.fm changed something.