Interesting take on the difference between "web news" and the MSM.
The x91new journalismx92
This appears to be how it works in the Internet Age x96 at least if wex92re talking about a salacious rumor a lot of people appear to think (or hope) is true.
Alabama Attorney General Troy King is finding this out the hard way, as in the course of a few days, rumors of him being busted in bed with a male aide have gone from whispers, phone calls and e-mails to in-state bloggers to national Web sites.
As I write this, there has been no official statement from King, Gov. Bob Riley or any other state official. No one has admitted or denied that King was sexually involved with a male aide, or that his wife caught them and threw him out of the house. As I write this, nothing is clear x96 except that lots and lots of people on the Web either think the rumor is true or want it to be true.
The speed with which this thing took off and went x93viralx94 is breathtaking, really. I first heard about it through a cryptic e-mail from a fellow journalist on Wednesday, July 9. I called a friend in Montgomery and he filled me in on what he knew, that the rumor had first broken over the weekend and people had been talking of little else in the capital city for the past couple of days.
At that point, there were a couple of sites that were breathlessly reporting that King would resign at any moment, and that it would be in the mainstream media within a day or two. By Thursday, the number of sites discussing this alleged incident had more than doubled and by Friday, it grew exponentially. As we go to press, more than 100 sites across the country have x93reportedx92 the x93story.x94 National gossip-monger Perez Hilton picked up the ball and ran with it, practically reporting Kingx92s outing as gospel. It only seems like a matter of time before a mainstream news organization has to report on the rumor.
I know for a fact reporters from the Birmingham News and the statex92s New York Times-owned newspapers were both actively trying to move the story from the ether of the Web into the cold type of newsprint. Ix92m told Riley was actively avoiding reporters by the end of the week, as were King and his people.
Thatx92s how things roll now. If enough people start chatting and blogging about something, it can practically become a major news item even without a shred of what any journalism professor would consider x93fact.x94 Welcome to the new journalism.
In some ways it is frightening, as one can easily imagine a situation in which a false story could go viral and smear an innocent person. Even as I write this, that still may be the case with this story about King. Certainly as of July 11, there isnx92t a shred of x93factx94 out there suggesting the story is real. There are plenty of knowledgeable people who insist it is fact, but sans photos, admissions, love notes or court filings, the old pieces that would have made up a standard news story are missing.
But that was then, this is now. If you remember, the Monica Lewinsky story was broken with little more than rumor. Matt Drudge pushed the story on his site and it was only so long before the big boys had to follow suit. All of that has been accelerated dramatically a decade later when so many people have their own blogs that serve as semi-primary news sources for others.
As we go to press, the state is abuzz with the King story, every journalist in the state is talking about it, but not one mainstream news agency has written or spoken a word about it. This is truly a case of the new media passing us by. Itx92s still incumbent upon the x93professionalx94 media to wait until we know wex92ve got the story right, but increasingly wex92re showing up late to the party because people who arenx92t staking their reputations on being accurate have beaten us to the punch bowl.
Ix92m not saying either of us is wrong or right. Certainly there is room for abuse and character assassination on the Web, while at the same time professional reporters can occasionally let whispers go by for too long without responding, forcing the stories onto the Web. Not that itx92s a journalistx92s fondest dream to spend his days or nights chasing public officials into seedy motels, but those stories do sometimes have a need-to-know component for the general public.
Either way, the geniex92s out of the bottle and not likely to go back in without a very long-term power outage.
WKRG wins Murrow
The folks over at Channel 5 are celebrating another big award, as their story x93Mobilex92s Makeoverx94 won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for Continuing Coverage. WKRG won the regional Murrow for the story earlier this year, which qualified it for the national contest.
More than 3,400 entries made it into the national contest, with only 77 honorees being awarded. Investigative reporter Tiffany Craig, photojournalist Jud Hulon, former senior producer Jennifer Dale and creative services producer Ed Smith will be presented with their award at a dinner Oct. 13 in New York City.
Congratulations to WKRG and its staff.
Six years and counting
What youx92re now reading represents the beginning of Lagniappex92s seventh year. Wow! Hard to imagine wex92ve not got a half dozen years under our belt. Sometimes it seems like a lot more, and others it seems like the blink of an eye.
As with every other year in the process, the paper has gotten bigger and stronger. I like to think we continue to find our voice as well and to take our readers places no one else is willing or able to go.
Ashley and I want to thank all of the loyal readers and advertisers who have truly given the Mobile area something extra. We also canx92t forget the amazing people who work with us and help get this thing off the ground every two weeks. We are forever grateful.
Look for us to continue bringing you the most interesting local coverage in our seventh year. So far seven is looking lucky indeed.