This Way to the Egress

“Professional” journalists are finally learning what the alternative online media already know. Faster is not always better. Professionalism isn’t measured by money, but by accuracy. Granted, there’s always a time frame (life span) of interest for most stories, depending on the weight or importance of the story itself. And dare I say that accuracy in online terms may be relative?

Elvis Loved Bacon

For example, it’s been eternally reported that Elvis loved peanut butter and bacon sandwiches, which contributed to his obesity and health problems. But what kind of bread? What brand of bacon? Hormel? Oscar Meyer?

Perhaps the Oracle of Bacon?

Elvis himself is history, but he lives on “virtually” through his music, movies and tv appearances, which, thanks to the net, will never die. And was he really slumped over a toilet, and just how many drugs were in his system? Is Graceland getting another makeover? Welcome to the niche audience.

Pardon My Niche

A lot of people still adore Elvis and want to know everything about him. For most of us, he’s locked in time; for others he’s perpetual. They didn’t call him “the King” for nothing.

A niche is a person, place or thing (animal, mineral or vegetable – no Elvis jokes please) that only certain people resonate to. Cults are the extreme end of niche markets. But they can also be as simple as model airplane building, wine tasting or monster movies. The niche is the commonality. “News” as we’ve experienced through major mainstream companies isn’t niche – it’s delivered like buckshot to hit the widest possible audience. It’s also formulaic: grab ‘em with a current controversy (often manufactured by the media themselves), followed by fires, fashion shows and a few cute puppies.

So until recently our culture’s [tv] news was consumed at dinner time. Uncle Walter Cronkite always sat in the king’s chair. But his heir, Dan Rather, destroyed that credibility with his phony George Bush story. Thanks to the “remote audience” he was summarily dethroned because “amateurs” around the world proved that the very documents Rather purported as truth simply couldn’t be real – because the typeface didn’t exist at the time.

Create or Destroy?

Irresponsible journalism kills. Misinformation unleashed by virtual virus or video buckshot can do enormous damage – simply because people have a predilection to believe what they see. Unfortunately, volumes can be written about how, willfully or ignorantly, mass journalism disseminates untruths at the expense of human lives.

Among the most egregious was Newsweek’s phony story about a Koran flushed down a toilet, leading to riots and murders. Whoops. Any of these professionals wonder how you’d flush a book down a toilet in the first place?

Lions at the Gatekeepers

Axel Bruns’ article on Wikinews declares: “alternative online news sites can be described as a form of remote commentary or annotation of what is covered in the mainstream news. In doing so, alternative online news frequently practices what can be described as gatewatching as opposed to traditional journalistic gatekeeping: where in an age of easy publication and distribution of content over the Net no one news organization has the power any more to choose what news is ‘fit to print’ and what news is discarded, and where therefore the ‘gates’ of publication have multiplied beyond all control, such alternative online news publishers watch the gates of as many other news (and newsworthy) organizations, and analyze, evaluate, and discuss the information which passes through them.”

So who’s guarding the henhouse?

This way to the Egress.

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