In the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombings and the manhunt that followed, a lot of thought and critique is going to the way the news functioned during the events. I love the way James Gleick described this to Maureen Dowd, in the New York Times. Also, a series of mistakes clearly made the case for a “slow news” approach in these kind of situations – see Dan Gillmor’s take on this.
But maybe, it’s time for the media to push this even further. Going from putting the brakes on the news to complete… silence! It’s the radical yet sensible suggestion made by Mike Ananny, in a very interesting piece published by Nieman Lab. “What would it mean to create breaking news environments that thoughtfully represented the absence of reporting?“, he asks. In the age of real-time information, pushed by many different stakeholders, there may be an opportunity to look into the value of silence during breaking news events and the trust it could translate into.
Here are some excerpts of his note (further reading highly recommended) :
“The ideal press should be […] about demonstrating robust answers to two inseparable questions: Why do you need to know something now? And why do you need to say something now?”
“When news can break at any moment, when should it break?”
“We are in a unique historical moment when the press is ripe for radical redesign — when it’s possible for those creating the conditions under which the networked press operates to help us understand the meaning and value of online silence during breaking news events.”
Full text: go to Nieman Lab