By no means am I a journalist in the true sense of the word, but I present that with every advancement in technology, there is a decline in patience. Whether it be from the consumer or those providing the product.
Did you ever wait outside of a record store at midnight for the release of a new album from your favorite band? There’s an entire generation that has never had that experience.
First it was Napster, and now it’s iTunes that makes the music so available so quickly that the longest wait you have is the time it takes to login and download.
Before 1987, there wasn’t a single stretch of highway or interstate in America that exceeded a 55 miles per hour speed limit. Today, there are spots in Texas where the speed limit is 80.
Did you know that McDonald’s has 31,000 restaurants across the world? Did you know they serve 58 MILLION customers… EVERY DAY? That’s an average of 1,870 customers per store, per day. I would guess that the great majority of those customers are rolling into the drive-thru.
News sources don’t want to be last to the party. When that happens, you become an irrelevant regurgitator (even if you did your own footwork). But, reporters don’t want to be WRONG, either. They want to be fast, they want to first, they want to be right. Despite Meat Loaf’s philosophy on the subject… in 2011, two out of three IS bad.
Consumers want whatever new information you have as soon as you have it, but they also chastise the media for being incorrect.
I have always been a wait-and-see reporter. I don’t like to contribute to the spread of rumors. When there is a buzz about something, I cite who is reporting it and (when possible) offer a conflicting report from another source to provide balance. If every outlet seems to be reporting the same unconfirmed story in one form or another, I will use my own judgement to cite the most credible of those sources (as opposed to the FIRST report). If that initial report proves to be true, then I credit the reporter who originally broke the story. If the reporting is incorrect in any way, I will make it known HOW it was wrong.
I do this because if I don’t know for certain, I won’t act like I do. I can’t be perfect. But I CAN be trustworthy. When somebody flips on the radio or reads my writing or talks to me in person, I want them to feel like if it comes from me… it’s correct. No doubt about it.
I work as a Sports Director at KFRU. Mahlon Aldridge, Chris Gervino, Eric Engberg (CBS News), Juliet Huddy (FOX News), Chris Lincoln (ABC Sports), Joe Scialfa (Packers, Brewers, Bucks Exec Prod), and Elizabeth Vargas (CBS News, 20/20) all spent time behind the KFRU microphone, and I owe it to them to be correct.
There are plenty of fantastic journalists out there. Gabe DeArmond of PowerMizzou.com is one that seems to subscribe to the same philosophy as I do. Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune is another. Not only does he bust his ass to get the story, but he passes along the information he DOES have with a disclaimer attached that it may or may not “mean anything right now”. THAT is how you appeal to the information-starved masses. Give them something to chew on, then bring out the entire dinner when it’s ready. And not a minute before.
My style may not be condusive to today’s media landscape. People want to know what’s going on.. NOW. Thirty minutes later, they want to know what’s going on… NOW. Even if there’s nothing to report, it doesn’t stop some from reporting something.. anything.. just to appease the public demand.
What happens when there’s pressure to satisfy demand and you rush to put something out there even if it’s not necessarily RIGHT?
You get “Grease 2”.
That begs the question: Does impatience quicken the pace of our daily lives, or does the quickened pace of our daily lives breed impatience?