Viral News – Has the Genie Come Out of the Bottle?

David Churbuck hit an issue that’s been on my mind for a while yesterday – that is the effect of YouTube on media and news in general.  Basically, YouTube and the cellphone video recorder are(have) changed the world. 

Think about the Michael Richards (Kramer from Seinfeld) incident.  No video phones, no racism complaints, career not quite so over. Or the LA police beatings, no video, no issue.

The problem is that, regardless what you think of MSM (mainstream media in talk show vernacular), they’re basically straight and level on ethics.  No plagiarism, no set ups, no lies and distorsion.  Okay, you can make a case for the Dan Rather bit with the President’s National Guard service, but for the most part, we can stipulate that they’re basically on the level.

That stipulation doesn’t carry to blogs and user generated content.  There’s no general assumption of journalistic ethics.  For that matter the supreme court has even gone one step further, they’ve asserted that reposting of libelous comments is not itself a libelous act. 

Take a look at what happened in Canada recently.  One girl provoked the teacher, while the other waited for the teacher to fly of the handle, then videoed it on her cam phone.  Taken out of context it seemed like the teacher was utterly out of control. Maybe she was, but the truth is the kids did a set up job on her that would get you fired at any news organization in the United States.

Congratulations, you’ve been YouTubed.

The way we get our news is changing dramatically.  Even the network news is running video off peoples camera phones.  The disaspora of journalism has made everyone (that wants to) a media wannabe.  That doesn’t mean that they’ve ever heard the word “ethics” and it certainly doesn’t preclude the hidden agendas that so many bloggers decried in the Rather case.  We have met the enemy – he is us.

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