Random Thursday

Some rambling observations while hoping that my uncle in Salt Lake City who's a big fan of traditional country music isn't disappointed when he listens to the latest release by The Little Willies based solely on my recommendation.

  • The following is a purely hypothetical question. I personally know of no one to whom this might apply. Say you've got some lip balm and you've nursed it along to the point where the last little bit is actually below the rim of the applicator. And say that in your quest to use every last bit you screw it out far enough that it somehow pops completely out of the housing. And say further that it lands on the carpet and rolls around a bit. Here's the question: is there a five-second rule for lip balm?

  • Dear Amazon.com, while I appreciate the sincerity of your offer to text me the delivery status of my order, it seems a bit, well, unnecessary to let me know that my package has been delivered three hours after I take delivery of it. [But we've got technology, and we're by gum gonna use it!]

  • Dear iPhone, for future reference, please rest assured that if I type "ululate" in any context or application whatsoever, I well and truly intended to type "ululate," and therefore your attempt to correct it to "ultimate" is ultimately futile.

  • Speaking of iPhones, if I had known about Popa in time, it would have totally been at the top of my Christmas wish list (well, right after an Aston Martin One-77). If it's not obvious from the photo at right, this little device attaches to the dock port of your phone and turns it into a digital camera complete with a handle and shutter button. No more getting photos of your finger or blurry subjects because you couldn't hold the phone in such a way as to get a proper image. The downside, as it was pointed out to me, is that you can't use it while your phone is in a case, but that's not how I roll anyway. If you're going to have an 8-megapixel camera in your iPhone, you ought to be able to take pictures that do it justice. Popa seems like a good start.

  • Still, the Aston Martin is probably even cooler.

  • A one-hour wait for a table at a restaurant in Midland? Seriously, Luigi's?

  • OK, time for some serious seriousness. Yesterday on Facebook, a local TV station's news team (OK, it was KOSA - CBS, if you must know) posted a headline about a "blowout" south of Midland. But when you clicked over to the actual story on the station's website, it was obvious that it was a flowline leak. The Facebook posting immediately received a number of comments pointing out that a blowout was a completely different - and much more grave situation than a surface leak. As one commenter put it, "blowouts kill people; leaks kill grass." 

    There were also a couple of comments to the effect that such observations were simply oil company propaganda intended to minimize the seriousness of the situation. That's a laughable accusation, akin to saying that a report that a car hit a moose crossing the highway last night between Midland and Rankin, causing a fatality, is the same as reporting that a rabbit was hit. Yeah, the animal was a mammal in both cases, and the rabbit certainly succumbed to the encounter, but the situations are laughably different.

    In the case of the leak, however, the difference isn't really laughable to those who have family members working on drilling crews. I can guarantee that every one of those people clicked over in a panic immediately after seeing the misleading headline, wondering if their loved one was involved.

    I checked back about 20 minutes later, and found that the post had been removed from Facebook, along with all the comments, and a new one put in its place that correctly identified the incident as a leak. And that raised a couple of questions in my mind.

    Should traditional news outlets - professional journalists - be held to different social media standards than the rest of us mooks? Is it appropriate for erroneous reports to be removed - "as if it never happened" - from Facebook or a blog or another website, without acknowledging the error? What about the deletion of any associated discussion in the comments to such posts? We're always encouraged to leave comments and feedback by media posters, but should we bother if they'll possibly be deleted on a whim?

    My opinion on these issues is still evolving, even as the mainstream media's use of social media as an adjunct to its traditional outlets evolves. I lean toward wanting the same accountability and professionalism on social media as they're supposed to be exercising in print or on the air, but I also recognize that being able to remove erroneous or misleading material could be beneficial. For example, given the level of panic an erroneous headline about a well blowout could have, it might be better just to remove it rather than issue a subsequent correction and explanation. In this specific case, it's a tough call.

    I'd be interested in hearing some opinions from any professional journalists who might check in.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Eric published on December 21, 2011 10:46 PM.

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