Last week, we posted a story about a fiery crash at the Staunton flashers where two people were injured. We received negative feedback on Facebook about reporting the story without the names of those involved. Then, we were told that these types of stories are what us media types "thrive" on.
After the crash, we, at The Brazil Times, requested information about those involved because we didn't want to be a nuisance at the scene nor would we have been allowed to. And, as in many cases and for many reasons, information didn't come until several hours later.
Also, to think that we (well, me personally anyway) enjoy butting into other people's lives at their absolute worst moments would be a poor representation of who we really are.
The truth is we are just doing our jobs, which have been molded by changes in society and technology.
Our viewer statistics clearly show that this is what people want to see, read and share. Struggle, tragedy, death, crashes and similar topics are, by far, the most viewed, discussed and shared stories we produce. And, our job as "the media" is to give people what they want.
Also, if we don't post it, another news agency or individual will, and we will receive similar backlash for not being the first to report something in our own backyard.
Like it or not, the internet, followed by the onset and rapid growth of social media, has forever changed the media landscape. Now, "breaking news," personal or otherwise, (whether it comes from the media or individuals) is online moments after it happens. I actually despise it, but all types of media have followed down that path to keep up with competitors.
To get personal, I know first hand the harm this can cause people.
When my brother passed in 2011, I just happened to be on Facebook at work when I saw a post on his personal page that read, "RIP brother." Then, there was another one, "I can't believe it." Next thing I know, I am frantically calling my parents to see what's going on. Sadly, they didn't know either.
Since my brother was stationed at an Army base in Washington state, it was impossible to get any information until several hours after the first Facebook post. It left me and my distraught parents clueless about whether my brother was dead or alive aside from Facebook posts from people we have never met hundreds of miles away.
I guess this is just a downside to all of this great technology, and we just have to deal with it.
But, my hope is that maybe one day we "media" can "thrive" on being the first to report all of the good news. Then again, that would require our society to want the same thing.