In electronic media, lying has become less serious. We seem to have a more cavalier attitude to the truth than we did a long time ago. There’s no longer a clear distinction between reality and fantasy because with social media, the distinction between news and entertainment has been so eroded, that this clear and important difference has been lost.
David Livingstone Smith, associate professor of philosophy at the University of New England in Biddeford, Me, to the New York Times. Disruptions: Twitter’s Uneasy Role in Guarding the Truth.
Last week saw a lot of handwringing over misinformation spread through social networks about the effects and responses to Sandy as the storm hit the east coast. In particular, to the @comfortablysmug Twitter feed where Shashank Tripathi posted purposefully fabricated stories that first responders needed to respond to set the record straight.
Rumor, fabrication and outright falsehood has been around since anything’s been around though. If it’s not that humans like to lie, a good portion of us do… or least tell a good yarn.
Important though is that while our social media provides an easy outlet for misinformation to go viral, it’s also a platform for crowdsourcing corrections more quickly than ever before. Or, at least, that’s the optimists view.
Pessimists can point to censorship and propaganda regimes that flood social media, message boards and other online gathering places with a consistent barrage of misinformation of their own.
We just thought this is going to be the fastest way we can cover this and it’s the most dirct route. It’s wasn’t like, ‘Oh, this is a trend, let’s assign this on Instagram.’ It was about how quickly can we get pictures to our readers.
Kira Pollack, director of photography, TIME, to Jeff Bercovici, Forbes. Why Time Magazine Used Instagram To Cover Hurricane Sandy.
TIME gave five photographers access to its Instagram account as they covered Sandy. Many of the images can be seen on TIME’s Lightbox blog.
The cover for the northeast edition of this week’s edition uses one of the Benjamin Lowy’s photos. His work can be seen on his Tumblr.
Bonus: How do Instagram-type apps affect photojournalism? There’s a debate about that.
New York Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy confirmed by email that the news organization is suspending its paywall starting this afternoon, so that readers can get information about Hurricane Sandy.
“The gateway has been removed from the entire site and all apps. The plan is to keep it that way until the weather emergency is over,” Murphy said.
With the paywall in place, only digital and/or print subscribers can read beyond 10 articles. The Times suspended its paywall last year when Hurricane Irene threatened New York.
According to its third quarter earnings report released this past week, the Times has about 566,000 digital subscribers to nytimes.com and the International Herald Tribune. But thousands more will be closely following the storm as severe weather typically brings traffic surges to news websites.
Wall Street Journal Digital Network Managing Editor Raju Narisetti tweeted Sunday afternoon that all of wsj.com would be freely available starting Monday. Other newspapers have made similar announcements: The Boston Globe tweets its storm coverage is available free on Boston.com; The Baltimore Sun is dropping its wall; Newsday is also making its content available for free.
FJP: Stay safe all, and happy reading.