The following is something I think is interesting. Although not as important or immediate as the other stories stemming from yesterday's shooting, it is seemingly an example of the ever-thinning line between news and gossip, something others think deserves attention as well. I could write pages on this, but I'll keep it short:
I spent the entire day yesterday watching the coverage of the shooting in Tucson from multiple sources, both online and from cable news. Having friends in the area, I searched for information on who the victims were and their condition... and waited, eyes glued to multiple monitors for hours. I saw what seemed like an early claim of a fatal head shot from one news organization go from NPR to Reuters to Huffpost to facebook. Then foxnews said that they had "confirmed" that Giffords was dead. Then CNN. I didn't see it, but I also heard MSNBC and AP did the same. They all had blogs or news streams updated by the second; somewhere in there I think I saw that they had also "confirmed" a cure for cancer and the existence of extraterrestrials.
While this was all happening, I was watching the streaming coverage from the local CBS affiliate KOLD. The reporters gave all of the substance from the other news outlets (clearly presented as "reported..." or "claims of..."), as well as details from their own reporting, but refused, REFUSED, to speculate on the condition of congresswomen Giffords. They mentioned something about "unconfirmed reports", or "waiting for their sources to corroborate." How gutless and boring!
But then, what do you know, reports came out from University Medical Center: KOLD was right to hold back, and as everyone else continued on their same story for some time, the local news station reported on what was actually happening. As far as I am concerned, KOLD was the only news organization I saw on that day that was practicing REAL journalism - as opposed to simply vomiting out information as soon as it was ingested. There is certainly an important place for the rapid exchange of information between people and news sites today; to argue otherwise would be futile and ignorant. However, even with their slant toward sensationalism, I expected much more from the major news outlets. Ignorant? Perhaps.
Sorry, this doesn't have much to do with anything. I, like everyone else I know, hope Gabrielle Giffords will recover completely. I mourn for those who are not as fortunate. I hope that this might lead to the end of hyperbolic and vitriolic rhetoric in political debate, even if this has absolutely nothing to do with what happened. And I expect that the news giants will use a local news station as an example of how to cover a national news story.