Anyway, yesterday I went to the movies and watched Quantum of Solace. What an excellent movie, I enjoyed how suave James Bond was in the face of grave danger; jumping out of a plane without a parachute, being sure that he can grab and hold on to his girl – who does have a parachute – and piggyback on her to land safely. Or jumping to some thin railing, hiding himself behind a wall and walking effortlessly on said railing as his MI-6 colleagues storm the hotel looking for him. Facing death in a car, on boat, in flight, on foot were no problems for him.
I returned home, went online, and found myself in a world which made me feel like I was still in a James Bond movie: terrorists attacking 10 locations in Mumbai, taking hostages in 2 hotels and setting fire to them (the hotels that is, and not the hostages (well hopefully not)).
So I turned on the TV and started watching the news channels, and looked online to find the most up-to-date information.
After a while, I started to notice something: repetition. The news people kept repeating the same news, even if it is a few hours old. The same video of that damned SUV which the terrorists hijacked, whizzing by! And through it all, the banner “Live!”.
God damn it, it annoyed me. I learnt somewhere that they can claim it’s “Live!” even though they’re showing recycled video, as long as the talking head is still there, talking. All he/she might be saying is “Let’s look at this video now.”, and then show a video which is 2 hours old, but it’s still “live” – and the “Live!” banner can stay on – because that moron is still sitting in Atlanta talking to you with a maximum of maybe 10 seconds satellite, etc, delay.
Online sources aren’t any good either. One-lined headlines on news sites are better than nothing, but please put a timestamp on it could you? NYTimes, BBC, CNN sites got in on the “action”, doing “live-blogging”, though mostly with 1 hour or so since the last update.
I can understand it, in a siege situation you’re mostly sitting there wondering what the hell is going on. Maybe the military is gathering information or planning their attack, and it takes time, and they’re surely not going to share information which the TV-folks could then relay back to the terrorists. So what do the TV-folks do? They keep talking… showing the same bits of what they have over and over again.
Then online, some claim, it’s “citizen journalism” to the rescue! Twitter and Flickr for the win! So far I’ve only seen one good Flickr stream which contained original content, so good that CNN and Yahoo! copied it and gave that Flickr’er (huh?) his Warholian 15 minutes. The rest? Oh, screencaps of what they saw on CNN. Yeah, great, citizen journalism? It’s just rehashing the news that you got from TV/the web! The same with Twitter, it’s all people sitting on their asses in front of their computers, rehashing what they read on a news site or saw on TV.
If you were really on the ground and watching the events live, would you really be twittering? Instead it’s people watching the TV and talking about what they saw on TV. How is that journalism?
So dare I say it, citizen journalism is a crock of crap. OK not all of it, but can you really expect to get credit when all you’re doing is sitting on your ass watching the TV and tweeting about it? Meanwhile, it’s getting praise for the great work it’s doing, from, well, itself, and, from the “real”, a.k.a. “traditional” journalists. “Look, it’s a tweet about some guy worrying about his family member.”. My opinion: How the f*** is that news-relevant!?!? Is that really news? Of course there will be people worried about their family members. Why the f is the fact that it’s being put on public display on the web’s latest hyped website, news-relevant?
The best journalism still comes from those who are paid and trained to do it, unfortunately as I’ve already said, they are failing at the business of providing accurate and timely information.
“Oh, that hotel has been cleared.”. “Oh, still shooting at that hotel.” Which info came first? Was there shooting and then the clearance, or the other way around, disqualifying the “all clear.”? The fact that the TV just loops the tapes and talk over and over again doesn’t help either. “Still shots at this location.” Oh yeah, how current is this information?”. Lack of timestamps is one problem, inaccurate information another.
I suppose I am expecting too much of the fictional world in this real-life scenario. In a movie you’d have an expert team which has 3D maps of the scene, events and where the bad guys are. (Yeah, very unrealistic, that’s why it only happens in movies.) As an aside, the Dark Knight’s kick-ass sonar system comes into mind as realistic enough; it would be cool to have something like that.
But lacking all that, I wish the journalists can timestamp all the information they are spewing, I know repeats are necessary, but give me a way to know how new your so-called “news” is!
And where’s James Bond, or John McClane?