News is not only fast, it is instantly changing

October 4, 2007

Cameron in my office just sent me a link to a news story about the shooting of a University of Memphis football player. Since we are closely involved with university communication and notification, the story was interesting to both of us. Included in the story was this quotation: “After the shooting, students complained the Tiger Text emergency alert text messaging service did not immediately notify them of the shooting. A message sent just after 4:00 a.m. Monday morning informed students classes were canceled Monday.”

This is interesting because we try to communicate to those in the university community about the limitations of notification technologies following the frenzy relating to the Virginia Tech tragedy.

But when I went back to the link Cameron provided, the quotation was gone. I asked Cameron what happened. Well, what happened was the story was changed and the link, of course, remained. It was edited. Understandable, of course. He didn’t hit print and get a record of it as it was originally with the above quote, so it is gone (except, of course, I captured it here for you from his email.)

I talk incessantly about instant news–about how fast the news story starts. What I don’t talk about enough and this demonstrates is “instant news change.” That moment by moment the story evolves and changes. From a communication standpoint it means several important things:

– the bad news may go away quickly if it is replaced with something else (more bad news or some change in the original)

– good news, ditto

– sending a press release out every day or even every few hours doesn’t cut it–today’s crisis communications means a virtual constant flow of fresh information. Because if it isn’t coming from you it will be coming from someone else.

– real time, constant and consistent monitoring of all forms including blogs and online sites is absolutely essential. You need to know not just that your story is being covered and how it is being covered, but how it is changing moment by moment

– hit the print button if you want to capture a story as it is right now–or, capture the clip in the clip book and then monitor again.

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