News Outlets Are Not “Live Social Media”

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As I finish breakfast and head out from my perch at Starbucks I want to mention something that is trending on Facebook, blogs and in other outlets… it’s the Fox News host who quoted a parody news story as fact. And it leads me to hammer out a 20 minute blog post before I leave the coffee shop. In the clip, the Fox News host, Anna Kooiman, gives a teaser of a coming story they would expand on: President Obama uses personal funds to keep a Muslim cultural library open despite the shut down.

Mostly, people are pounding on the idea that she was simply being blatant in her attempt to divide us, Republican vs. Democrat, Christian vs. Muslim, etc. And I don’t completely disagree with that commentary; she was definitely looking to sensationalize a contrast she believed she understood. But of course, our President wasn’t using personal funds to keep any museum open.

Instead of playing the “I Hate Fox” card, how about we just take the life lesson that far more news outlets than Fox News need to grab hold of… “News outlets are not simply live social media.” How many of us have blogged, tweeted or posted a story just to find out it wasn’t accurate, truthful or even intended to be factual? We can giggle at a friend who gets confused by a well written Onion story that supports their prejudices or shocks their sensibilities, but national news outlets should know better. And Fox isn’t the only offender. (Remember the poor news host in California who actually read those racist, sick fake pilot names? Holy smokes.)

I love social media. I like Twitter, I enjoy some blogs and I’m tethered to Facebook. Because of my addiction to these various social mediums I am willing to expend energy on the needed filters to spot the slip ups and antics of my friends and favorites. But when it comes to national news outlets, I need better. We all need better. 

And the lesson is for all of us to remember, as we begin pecking at the keys for our own next post, that things like this chip away at our credibility. Anna Kooiman is not a horrible person, and she isn’t stupid either. In fact, she seems to be a decent person who made a gaff, and then owned up to it and apologized. But it’s still a teachable moment.

Please, Fox News, CNN, ABC, MSNBC, and all… we don’t need you reading the Twitter trends or falling for parody news. Slow down and get it right. We already have one Reddit, and the cosmos can’t keep balance with any more.

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